faith in humanity restored
December 7, 2017

Even in the midst of Southern California's devastating wildfires, there's a little bit of humanity left.

Motorists on California's Highway 1 recorded a video of a man who pulled over, hopped out of his car, and raced toward the burning brush on the side of road. His dangerous mission? Saving a rabbit that ran into the fire.

The unidentified man jumped around anxiously and threw out his arms, trying to coax the animal out. When it finally did emerge, he scooped the terrified rabbit up in his arms and carried it to safety.

Uncontrollable wildfires have spread across Southern California in the past week, leaving the Los Angeles hills looking like something out of the apocalypse. As of Wednesday night, the fires are only 5 percent contained. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 11, 2017

Dozens of strangers put their own lives at risk on Saturday when 10 people, including six members of the same family, got swept out to sea by a powerful riptide off of Florida's Panama City Beach, The Washington Post reports. "These people are not drowning today," Jessica Simmons, who noticed the commotion from shore, remembered thinking. "It's not happening. We're going to get them."

While responding law enforcement had determined to wait for a rescue boat, people watching on shore decided they needed to act or risk watching the swimmers drown where they were caught about 100 yards from shore. Among those swept up in the riptide was Roberta Ursrey, who became trapped when trying to rescue her 11- and 8-year-old sons, as well as Tabatha Monroe and her wife, Brittany, who had also tried to rescue the boys. Ursrey's 27-year-old nephew, 67-year-old mother, and 31-year-old husband also became trapped as they tried to rescue the swimmers.

Back on the beach, people began to band together to form a human chain to reach the swimmers. At first just five people volunteered, but soon dozens were linking hands with strangers. Simmons and her husband, Derek, eventually swam past approximately 80 people to hook the youngest boys and pass them into the human chain, which relayed them back to the shore.

Nearly an hour later, the human chain had helped carry all 10 swimmers back to land. "To see people from different races and genders come into action to help TOTAL strangers is absolutely amazing to see!! People who didn't even know each other went HAND IN HAND IN A LINE, into the water to try and reach them. Pause and just IMAGINE that," Simmons wrote on Facebook.

"It actually showed me there are good people in this world," Ursrey said. Jeva Lange

December 12, 2016

After seeing a teenager come into their store every day to play with the WiiU on display, employees at a Valley Stream, New York, Best Buy pooled their money to buy him his very own console.

A man identifying himself as store manager Rahlem Storr posted a video to YouTube showing employees giving the young man a WiiU and telling him to "consider it an early Christmas present." Storr said the group also gifted the teen with a Super Smash Bros. game, and an employee gave him a ride so he wouldn't have to walk home with his expensive new gift.

His parents were "beyond welcoming" when they arrived, and KABC reports they brought their son back to the Best Buy store the next day because he really likes visiting. This wasn't about bringing attention to the store, Storr said, but rather doing a good deed. "The employees in this store saw an opportunity to make a child smile and did just that," he said. Catherine Garcia

September 1, 2015

Europe is buckling under the weight of hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern refugees trying to get into the EU. The Keleti train station in Budapest shut down Tuesday due to the number of migrants trying to get from Hungary to Germany; in late August, 71 refugees were found dead after suffocating in a refrigerated truck in Austria. Germany, meanwhile, is expecting 800,000 refugee arrivals this year.

In response to the crisis, the tiny island nation of Iceland has only offered the smallest amount of aid, agreeing to take in a mere 50 Syrian refugees. That wasn't nearly enough for popular Icelandic children's book author Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir. She launched a Facebook campaign that asked her fellow countrymen and women to open up their homes and urge the government to do more, The Telegraph reports. In 24 hours, more than 10,000 Icelanders had offered their homes for refugees to stay in. Keep in mind that Iceland's entire population is less than 330,000.

"I think people have had enough of seeing news stories from the Mediterranean and refugee camps of dying people and they want something done now," Björgvinsdóttir told Icelandic public television RUV in response to the overwhelming support.

That seems to be true. "I'm a single mother with a 6-year-old son...We can take a child in need. I'm a teacher and would teach the child to speak, read, and write Icelandic, and adjust to Icelandic society," one Facebook user wrote. "We have clothes, a bed, toys, and everything a child needs. I would of course pay for the airplane ticket."

The Icelandic government is now looking into how to accept more refugees. Whatever they decide, this much is for sure: The migrants they take in will have a warm welcome waiting for them. Jeva Lange

August 11, 2015

Comments from two rude teenagers inspired one Oregon community to come together to give an elderly man's home a fresh makeover.

Josh Cyganik, 35, sees Leonard Bullock, 75, every day at work at the Union Pacific rail yard in Pendleton. Bullock lives across the street, and likes to sits on his porch, watching the neighborhood. "In the morning when I get here, he's there, waves, when I go home, waves bye," Cyganik told ABC. "I just waved to him, knew he was a nice guy." In July, Cyganik overheard two teens walking by talk about how Bullock's house was unattractive and should be burned and torn down. "The look on Leonard's face said it all to me," he said. "I went home and thought about it and it was just bothering me, eating me up, and I knew I had to do something."

Cyganik quickly came up with a plan to spruce up Bullock's home, and was able to get materials donated by a local lumber and paint store, and used Facebook to ask friends to give him some assistance. He expected a few people to join him, but his post went viral, and more than 100 volunteers showed up July 18 to freshen up Bullock's home. The entire house was painted white, and new furniture was purchased for the porch. People dropped off food and drinks throughout the day, with the surplus going to the local Salvation Army. Cyganik said it was "overwhelming" to see so many people come together to help Bullock, and reports that he is enjoying his revamped home: "Day in and day out, he's still there and he grins ear to ear." Catherine Garcia

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