The week's good news: May 20, 2021

It wasn't all bad!

Jars and containers
(Image credit: ThitareeSarmkasat/iStock)

1. Kidney donor and recipient meet after a chance encounter online

Lisa Sorlie and Booker T. Williams are now bonded for life. Sorlie lives in Wisconsin, while Williams resides in California, and they were brought together two years ago, when Sorlie donated her kidney and Williams received it. Williams had been on the donor list for five years by the time he was matched with Sorlie. "I didn't miss anything because of my health, and I want everybody to have that," Sorlie told Good Morning America. The donation took place on May 9, 2019, and would have stayed anonymous had Williams' best friend not spotted a post from Sorlie on a Facebook group for kidney donors, and recognized the details she shared. Sorlie and Williams connected and became "fast friends," but were only able to finally meet in person for the first time on May 2, attending a Dodgers vs. Brewers game. "She's family now," Williams said of Sorlie, and the pair already plan on spending every future kidney donation anniversary together.

Good Morning America

2. Dog helps solve arson cases after flunking out of service training

Sheldon's desire to sniff everything got him kicked out of service dog training, but made him a standout in the arson detection program. A Labrador retriever and golden retriever mix, Sheldon flunked out of service dog training because he was always getting distracted by scents. This served him well when he made the switch to State Farm insurance's Arson Dog Program. During the extensive training, Sheldon learned how to sniff out fuel and accelerants used in fires set by arsons. Since 2018, Sheldon has been partnered with John Tadlock, the fire battalion chief with the Saginaw Fire Department in Texas. He impressed Tadlock during their first case investigating a suspicious fire at a car dealership, as Sheldon was able to dig through debris and find a Molotov cocktail. "You couldn't even see it," Tadlock told the Star-Telegram. They still train together every day, with Tadlock heaping praise and treats on Sheldon when he finds a scent.

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3. New study finds more consumers than ever are looking for sustainable products

An "eco-awakening" is taking place around the globe, the World Wildlife Fund says, with more people taking interest in the environment and steps they can take to protect it. A new WWF study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit looked at measures like Google search trends, Twitter mentions, and green campaigns in 54 countries covering 27 languages, and found that over the last five years, there has been a "dramatic rise" in awareness and concern for the environment. Public interest in nature has gone up 16 percent, the study says, and Twitter discussions on biodiversity and similar topics rose 65 percent from 2016 to 2020. Worldwide, there has been a 71 percent increase in popularity for sustainable goods, as more online shoppers search for products using the terms "sustainable," "biodegradable," and "ecological." "Global concern for the future of our planet is not just about saving individual species or landscapes," Kate Norgrove, WWF's executive director of advocacy and campaigns, said. "It's about our very survival."

Business Green

4. Girl Scouts turn plastic bottle caps into park benches that help kids make friends

Thanks to the members of Girl Scout Troops 2377 and 134, kids playing at two parks in northern Illinois will now always be able to find new friends. The Scouts spent two years collecting more than 300 pounds of plastic bottle caps, and using money raised through cookie sales, had those caps made into rainbow-colored buddy benches. When a child sits on the bench, it indicates that they are looking for someone to play with, ensuring that no one feels left out. The benches were installed last month at Converse Park in Island Lake and Fort McHenry Park in McHenry. Troop leader Kelly Bays told The Daily Herald the benches are a "tangible way for us to share the Girl Scout law with our community," and showed they could "use resources wisely" and "make the world a better place." For their hard work, each Scout earned a Take Action award.

The Daily Herald

5. Las Vegas teen's nonprofit donates 2,000 duffel bags filled with clothes to foster youth

Since learning that many foster kids don't have clothes or shoes that fit them, Nijel Murray has made it his mission to solve this problem. Four years ago, Murray's family welcomed a foster son, and when he arrived at their Las Vegas home, he carried his ill-fitting clothes and shoes in a trash bag. Murray, 17, told People he felt "really sorry for him and the rest of the kids that have to go through that," and with the help of his parents, bought a few duffel bags and stuffed them with new clothes, toiletries, blankets, and books, donating the bags to local foster agencies. That was the beginning of Klothes 4 Kids, Murray's nonprofit that helps get essentials to foster youth. The organization has since connected more than 2,000 kids with duffel bags, and Murray said doing this "really does humble me to be more grateful for what I have. It gives me joy in providing for others."


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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.