It’s the “Feel Good Roundup: Holiday Edition.”
Erin Ivory has shared stories of everyday people doing extraordinary things all year long. And for this holiday special, she looks back on her favorite 10.
10: The Dog at My Window
For decades we’ve known that being close to animals is good for our health. Which is why Soul Harbour Ranch called in the dogs – and a couple miniature horses to the room windows of senior care residents.
9: The Wood Chicks
Arlee Bennett and Mandy Stewart found a unique way to beat the quarantine blues after stumbling upon their retirement community’s wood shop. Within weeks, the duo turned what was once a boys’ club into a full on crafting station. Not only are the self-proclaimed Wood Chicks causing a stir but with all the scraps they find they have churned out countless beautiful pieces of art.
8: Changing the Playing Field
12-year-old Amira Hondras made history on one of Chicago’s baseball diamonds as the first girl to play for the Chicago White Sox Amatuer Elite baseball program. Amira surprised a lot of people when she showed up at tryouts, including the coaches, but after seeing her play, they didn’t waste any time offering her a coveted spot on the team.
#7: Bread for Bread
Local high school senior, Eric Seo began making homemade bread to sell so he could donate all the profits to help people who lost their jobs since the pandemic hit. In a matter of months, Eric kneaded and baked enough ciabatta and sourdough bread to raise more than $5,000. His Bread for Bread campaign has donated every penny of it to organizations supporting laid off workers.
#6: Shopping for Strangers
College student Micahel Arundel of Orland Park has started a countrywide volunteer shopping movement. When he heard about vulnerable seniors worried about exposing themselves to COVID by shopping, he put the call out online to college students willing to step up. He called it “Leave it to Us’. Today he has over 400 volunteers and 35 chapters across the country.
#5: Crossing Guard Surprise
For the last 15 years, Alec Childress has been helping children get to school safely. He knows every kid’s name that has crossed this street and makes it a point to give each one a special shout out, playfully letting every kid know how much the guy in the neon vest cares. So when the neighborhood got wind that Childress was about to turn 80, they went to work planning a street corner birthday he’d never forget.
#4: Nun on the Run
When 45,000 runners learned that all the training and miles they put in would fall to the wayside when the Chicago Marathon was cancelled, one local nun said a higher power called on her to keep running. This September, Sister Stephanie Baliga of Mission of Our Lady of Angels ran 26.2 miles on a church basement marathon to raise money for the mission’s food pantry. She not only ended up raising over 150 thousand but also broke a Guinness world record for the longest recorded distance on a treadmill.
#3: 31 Days of Giving
Southside Pastor Larry Jones found a unique way to help his Burnside neighbors this holiday season. Despite losing his own job, and struggling to make ends meet at his Rhema Revealed Worship Center, Jones decided to take what he did have and gift it to others. For the last 25 days, he has randomly handed out $100 dollars to someone in the community. He calls it “31 days of Giving.” Jones hopes his small act of kindness will lighten hearts and restore hope in the Burnside community during what has been a tough holiday season.
#2: The Great Lake Jumper
We all deal with the stresses related to the pandemic differently. For Chicagoan Dan O’ Conor, the cure was a spontaneous jump in Lake Michigan. And then he did it again – and again – and again.
#1 Theo’s Bucket List
Abandoned in a Crystal Lake Walmart Parking lot, the 12-year-old cancer plagued golden retriever is now living his best life with his new foster parents Jenny and Scott Leech. For months they have been crossing items off Theo’s Bucket List like visiting dog bakeries, firehouses, boat rides and even a lavish picnic. Since we ran his story, Jenny and Scott’s inbox has been flooded with kind words, dog toys and offers for even more bucket list adventures.