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Stranger gives single mother new car for Christmas

Published: Monday, December 29, 2015 @ 2:27 AM
Updated: Monday, December 29, 2015 @ 2:27 AM


            
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(Contributed photo)

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A single mother in Henry County, Georgia, got the shock of a lifetime when she came home to an unexpected Christmas present in her driveway.

A stranger had given the woman and her two children something they desperately needed – a new car.

For Cristy Ethridge, traveling anywhere in her beat-up car hasn’t been easy.

She had owned her 1996 Ford Explorer for 18 years and said she had problems with the car for most of that time.

Every fluid leaked, the car overheated and the transmission was shot, Ethridge said.

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“Everything was leaking in my garage. We’re always changing out cardboard boxes under the car to catch the oils,” Ethridge said.

Fixing the car cost money she didn’t have.

The mother of two teenagers said she lost her job last year. She was unemployed for a year before becoming an accounts manager at a pest-control company in August.

The family has not been on a vacation in more than 11 years, Ethridge said, because her car couldn’t make it out of Henry County.

“My son plays travel baseball, and I can’t travel," she said. "I’ve never been to his World Series game in Florida because I was never able to drive a car."

That all changed last week thanks to the kindness of a total stranger.

On Dec. 19, Ethridge’s 15-year-old daughter, Avery, was home from school and noticed a white SUV in their driveway. When her brother, Evan, got home, he noticed a red bow on the hood.

The teens called their mom at work to tell her about the car.

“I told them to go check it out. Inside, they found a note that said, “Merry Christmas, Cristy,” and there were the keys and a title,” Ethridge said.

The one thing that was missing was a name. The note was not signed and there was no indication as to who may have left the 2006 Toyota Sequoia in her driveway.

“The person who did it went through great lengths to be hidden,” Ethridge said. “I think at one point their name was on the title, but it had been taken off.”

Ethridge says at first she could not believe it, but the longer it sat there, the more it started to sink in.

“The scripture that comes to mind is Matthew 6: 1-4 that says when you do good deeds for people you’re supposed to do them in secrecy,” Ethridge said.

After the shock subsided, Ethridge’s next step was to call the Henry County Tax Commissioner's office to get information since it had been nearly two decades since she’d had a new car.

When the employee asked for information, Ethridge decided to share the whole story.

“I shared it with her, and then she put me on her speaker phone and asked me to share it with the whole office,” Ethridge said.

Ethridge says she’s still amazed and overwhelmed by the random act of kindness.

“It’s a true blessing,” said Ethridge, who credits her faith in God for helping her through the hardest of times. “It means so much more than my words can ever even express. I’m a very faithful person. I had lost my job. I was out of work for a year, but I knew that I’d be taken care of. I know that God has a plan for me. I know that everything happens for a reason, and I truly believe that.”

Ethridge says the life-changing gift is living proof of a lesson she has taught her children – kindness works, so pass it on.

“I’ve always taught my children to be kind to others and we do a lot of things for others,” she said. “I just tell them what we put out in the world always comes back to us, and this is really a true testament to that."

When asked if she wants to know who gave her the gift, Ethridge said, “Honestly, I am content with never knowing. My intuition tells me that this person knows me well enough to know what an impact this has had on my family and how truly grateful we are, beyond words. If I knew, I would probably worry myself sick trying to figure out how I could ever repay them.” 

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How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Published: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 6:40 PM
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2018 @ 6:40 PM

Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is Saturday, and before everyone gets ready for happy hours and parties, it helps to go in with a plan.

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There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 1862, during the French-Mexican war.

Make sure you do not do any of the following:

Dress up in sombreros and fake mustaches

There is no need to "dress up" for this day, but if you do, do not wear a sombrero, mariachi suit, serape, fake mustache or anything of the sort if you are not a member of that culture. Those things have historical and cultural significance, and donning them just for a day caricatures and stereotypes people. That's not fun.

Go out and get drunk

There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation and doing it socially, but responsibility is key. What is the use in celebrating a day if you get sick or can't remember it?

Make English words Spanish by adding an "o" on the end

Not only does it not make any sense, but by doing this, it makes fun of another language and turns it into a joke. The same goes for plays on the holiday name, so no parties or themes like "Cinco de Drinko."

You can make a margarita cupcake or a fun cocktail, or have dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without doing any of the three above.

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How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Published: Tuesday, May 01, 2018 @ 9:15 AM

Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is Saturday, and before everyone gets ready for happy hours and parties, it helps to go in with a plan.

>> Read more trending stories

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 1862, during the French-Mexican war.

Make sure you do not do any of the following:

Dress up in sombreros and fake mustaches

There is no need to "dress up" for this day, but if you do, do not wear a sombrero, mariachi suit, serape, fake mustache or anything of the sort if you are not a member of that culture. Those things have historical and cultural significance, and donning them just for a day caricatures and stereotypes people. That's not fun.

Go out and get drunk

There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation and doing it socially, but responsibility is key. What is the use in celebrating a day if you get sick or can't remember it?

Make English words Spanish by adding an "o" on the end

Not only does it not make any sense, but by doing this, it makes fun of another language and turns it into a joke. The same goes for plays on the holiday name, so no parties or themes like "Cinco de Drinko."

You can make a margarita cupcake or a fun cocktail, or have dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without doing any of the three above.

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Valentine’s Day takes on special meaning for parents of hospitalized babies

Published: Monday, February 13, 2017 @ 10:31 AM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 7:02 AM

NICU Babies Warming Hearts For Valentine’s Day

Hospitalized babies can pull at the heart strings of even the most courageous among us.

When babies are sick or born prematurely, the families of these children are under enormous emotional and, often, financial pressure.

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Some 380,000 babies, or one in every 10, are born prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, in the United States every year, the March of Dimes estimated. Most end up in the hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, the March of Dimes said.

In Kansas City, Missouri the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program at Saint Luke’s Hospital is aware of the hardships parents face when their babies are hospitalized. That’s why they planned a special Valentine’s Day celebration in recent years.

Related: Valentine's Day: List ranks some of the nation's best places to celebrate

The staff and volunteers, calling it a “special celebration of love,” assembled tiny knit caps with hearts that each baby in their care will wear for a special Valentine’s Day photo shoot. They’re also making baby footprint valentines for the parents.

“Every day a child is in the NICU can be frightening and uncertain, but holidays are especially tough, as families miss the normal joys of celebrations at home,” March of Dimes NICU Family Support coordinator, Rebecca Keunen said in a press release.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  

The nonprofit developed the NICU Family Support program to help families while their babies are in the intensive care unit, but even when these babies leave the hospital, they often face serious health challenges. The March of Dimes said these children are at higher risks for lifelong disabilities, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.

The March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization that focuses on pregnancy, baby health and conducts research into premature births.
   

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What is Earth Day? 5 things to know

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 4:24 AM

WATCH: Origin of Earth Day

Sunday is Earth Day 2018, and more than one billion people across the globe are expected to celebrate with environmentally friendly events.

But what exactly is Earth Day? Here's what you need to know:

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1. When did Earth Day start?

The first Earth Day celebration took place 48 years ago, in 1970, after a devastating oil spill in America brought environmental issues to the forefront of public consciousness. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 22 million people across the country came out in support of environmental reform.

"That day left a permanent impact on the politics of America," Gaylord Nelson wrote in the April 1980 edition of the EPA Journal. "It forcibly thrust the issue of environmental quality and resources conservation into the political dialogue of the nation.

"It showed political and opinion leadership of the country that the people cared, that they were ready for political action, that the politicians had better get ready, too. In short, Earth Day launched the environmental decade with a bang."

Since then, celebrations have only grown. This year, organizers estimate more than one billion people in 192 countries will participate in events the world over. The day is celebrated each year on April 22.

>> Target’s Earth Day car seat recycling program offers 20 percent off new car seat, stroller

2. Is there a theme for Earth Day 2018?

This year, organizers are focusing on curbing plastic pollution.

"Our goals include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics," the Earth Day Network, which partners with tens of thousands of organizations in 192 countries to organize Earth Day events, said on its website.

The organization also said it "will educate millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that decomposing plastics are creating serious global problems."

Read more here.

>> Antarctica's ice retreating 5 times faster than normal, study reveals

3. How are people celebrating?

In Tokyo, thousands of people will attend beach cleanups, concerts, art exhibits, classes and other events coordinated by the Green Room Festival, according to the Earth Day Network. In India's Karnataka state, a "no plastic" event will feature workshops led by "organizations that are champions of environmental sustainability in fields including electric vehicles, solar power and zero-waste living," the network said. Cleanups also were scheduled in Palm Beach, Florida; New York; New Jersey and other locations across the United States and worldwide.

Read more here.

4. What are businesses doing?

Google marked Earth Day with a "video doodle" featuring primatologist Jane Goodall. 

>> Click here to watch

“It is so important in the world today that we feel hopeful and do our part to protect life on Earth," Goodall said. "I am hopeful that this Earth Day Google Doodle will live as a reminder for people across the globe that there is still so much in the world worth fighting for. So much that is beautiful, so many wonderful people working to reverse the harm, to help protect species and their environments. And there are so, so many young people, like those in JGI’s Roots & Shoots program, dedicated to making this a better world. With all of us working together, I am hopeful that it is not too late to turn things around, if we all do our part for this beautiful planet.”

Read more about the doodle here.

Apple also joined in on the celebrations, announcing on April 19 that "for every device received at Apple stores and apple.com through the Apple GiveBack program from now through April 30, the company will make a donation to the nonprofit Conservation International."

In addition, Apple "debuted Daisy, a robot that can more efficiently disassemble iPhone to recover valuable materials," according to a company press release.

“At Apple, we’re constantly working toward smart solutions to address climate change and conserve our planet’s precious resources,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social Initiatives, said in a statement. “In recognition of Earth Day, we are making it as simple as possible for our customers to recycle devices and do something good for the planet through Apple GiveBack. We’re also thrilled to introduce Daisy to the world, as she represents what’s possible when innovation and conservation meet.”

Read more here.

>> Tips for celebrating the 20th anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom

5. How can I get involved?

There are multiple ways to get into the Earth Day spirit, from participating in a local event to changing your bills from paper to paperless. Here are some suggestions from the Earth Day Network:
  • Urge your local elected officials or businesses to make a substantial tree planting commitment by starting a letter-writing campaign or online petition.

  • Lead a recycling drive to collect as much plastic, metal, and glass as possible.

  • Pick up trash at a local park or beach.

  • Set up a screening of an environmentally themed movie. Consider supplementing the screening with a speaker who can lead a Q&A following the film.

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