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An 1870s marriage certificate was hidden behind a picture at a thrift store. Employees set out to find the couple’s family.

An 1870s marriage certificate was hidden behind a picture at a thrift store. Employees set out to find the couple’s family.

The marriage certificate, weathered and timeworn, was barely legible. What was somewhat clear, though, was the date: April 11, 1872.Employees at a thrift store Bolivia, N.C. — a tiny town with a population of less than 200 people — crowded around the nearly 150-year-old document, which was tucked away in the back of a picture frame that was donated in late July. The framed picture was of a girl placing flowers in a dog’s collar. Employees were puzzled.Not only were they baffled by how the document journeyed from New Jersey — where the marriage license was issued — to a small North Carolina...

Aug 31
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She needed a vaccine appointment before open-heart surgery. She got it from a stranger on Nextdoor.

She needed a vaccine appointment before open-heart surgery. She got it from a stranger on Nextdoor.

ADIt was early January and Emily Johnson was in a panic. She frantically called public health lines and scoured the Web, seeking a coveted vaccine appointment. No luck.Johnson, 68, who lives in Austin, was scheduled to have open-heart surgery in late February, and her cardiologist strongly advised she get vaccinated before flying to Cleveland for the procedure.But the slow vaccine made it seemingly impossible for Johnson to get inoculated — even though she’s over 65 and has a serious health condition.Desperate, she posted on the neighborhood networking site Nextdoor, hoping someone might...

Feb 24
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Upset by veterans who stormed the Capitol, these vets decided to clean up trash the mob left on the streets of D.C.

Upset by veterans who stormed the Capitol, these vets decided to clean up trash the mob left on the streets of D.C.

ADWhen Capitol Hill was in chaos on Jan. 6, David Smith was there.Smith, 40, was distributing hand-warmers to homeless people nearby when the siege started. He watched in disbelief as a menacing mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.“It was pretty gut wrenching to see,” said Smith, who retired less than a month ago after serving in the Navy for 13 years.As a veteran, he was especially horrified, he said, to learn that his fellow vets participated in the insurrection, including , also known as the “QAnon Shaman,” and , who was shot and killed in the Capitol.“That was a dagger to the heart,” said...

Jan 14
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It started as a spontaneous pep talk. Then this Starbucks barista became a lifeline for a boy with cancer.

It started as a spontaneous pep talk. Then this Starbucks barista became a lifeline for a boy with cancer.

ADWhen Debbie Haar pulled up to a Starbucks drive-through in Lake Elsinore, Calif., last month, it was a difficult day. Her 9-year-old son Cole was in the back seat, and they were on their way to his chemotherapy treatment.As Haar reached out her car window to take her iced peppermint mocha and Cole’s apple juice, a Starbucks barista unexpectedly struck up a casual conversation.“I was just at the window, being happy and cheerful, and just trying to be as positive as I can be during the pandemic,” said Eddie Aldrete, a 22-year-old Starbucks employee.Knowing her son could use a pick-me-up,...

Dec 11
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A dog was missing for weeks. Then it wandered into Walmart and found its owner working at the register.

A dog was missing for weeks. Then it wandered into Walmart and found its owner working at the register.

ADJune Rountree and her husband circled their neighborhood night after night looking for their beloved lost dog Abby.Rountree, 60, realized the dog was missing Nov. 8, when she went to the backyard of their home in Dothan, Ala., and instead of seeing her 4-year-old black-and-white dog, she was horrified to see only Abby’s collar and leash, which was secured to a ground stake.Despite their efforts, there was no sign of Abby, and the Rountrees were beginning to lose hope.Three weeks later, an unlikely and perhaps miraculous turn of events left them convinced Abby is either the luckiest or the...

Dec 4
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It started as a macho bake-off between dads. Months later, they’ve delivered 15,000 cookies to essential workers.

It started as a macho bake-off between dads. Months later, they’ve delivered 15,000 cookies to essential workers.

ADIn April, two dads in Huntingdon, Pa., decided to have a bake-off — mostly out of boredom.They had no idea it would turn into a movement of more than 100 people in their small town, baking and delivering cookies each week to essential workers at hospitals, fire departments and grocery stores. They were shocked when their competition-turned-good deed started to spread to other communities.It began when Scott McKenzie was furloughed from his job at Juniata College, a local liberal arts school. With his newfound free time, the father of two vowed to acquire an untapped skill every...

Nov 20
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D.C. woman, 90, watches gym classes from her window all day. When the gym found out, they painted her a mural.

D.C. woman, 90, watches gym classes from her window all day. When the gym found out, they painted her a mural.

For several months, Devin Maier has taught daily fitness classes on the rooftop of a D.C. gym. Until recently, though, he had no idea that a 90-year-old woman was keenly observing — all day, every day.Tessa Sollom Williams, whose eighth-floor apartment faces the gym, watches the workouts from her window. Her spectating begins around 7 a.m., to coincide with the first class, and typically continues — often with a cup of tea — until the final workout session ends at 7 p.m. Occasionally, she tries to emulate the moves.“I see them doing such hard exercises. My goodness me!” said Sollom...

Oct 26
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This Texas farm connects special-needs kids with injured animals: ‘They’re just like me’

This Texas farm connects special-needs kids with injured animals: ‘They’re just like me’

Harper Wulms was 2 the first time she met Priscilla — a turkey with a rare condition that’s similar to the one she has.Harper, now 5, was born with , a congenital hand abnormality. Harper’s right hand is disproportionately small and is missing one finger. Her parents call it her “lucky hand.”Harper and her mother were visiting an animal sanctuary near Austin, where they live, when they met Priscilla, a rescued turkey that happened to be born with a “lucky claw.”The toddler tottered over to the turkey, her mother recalled, and the moment Harper understood the similarity between them, she...

Oct 12
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The Nazis took a precious kettle from a Jewish couple. Some 86 years later, their grandson in Maryland got it back.

The Nazis took a precious kettle from a Jewish couple. Some 86 years later, their grandson in Maryland got it back.

On a recent afternoon, a seemingly unremarkable brown parcel appeared on the front porch of Martin Goldsmith’s home in Kensington, Md.Goldsmith, 68, swiftly pried open the package. With careful hands, he uncovered a 16th-century kettle that belonged to Goldsmith’s grandparents before they died in the Holocaust.He examined the double spouted cauldron — composed of brass, bronze and iron — with awe. It had quite a path before it landed on his doorstep.Goldsmith is well-versed in his family’s tragic history, having written two books on the subject. But unlike the anecdotes he has strung...

Oct 16
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Italian couple ‘Romeo and Juliet’ met from their balconies during lockdown. Now they’re engaged.

Italian couple ‘Romeo and Juliet’ met from their balconies during lockdown. Now they’re engaged.

An Italian couple has become known as the “Romeo and Juliet” of the lockdown.In true Shakespearean style, their romantic story began on their respective balconies this year while Italians were forced to sequester in their homes because of the pandemic. It was in Verona — the same city where “Romeo and Juliet” took place.But the love story of this pandemic couple does not have the tragic ending of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers. In fact, six months after they met from afar, the covid-19 sweethearts are engaged to be married.Michele D’Alpaos, 38, first laid eyes on Paola Agnelli, 40, in...

Sep 24
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