Good News Thursday: Community fridges provide relief, 100 dolls made for Lebanese children

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Village Freedge gives and receives

Sherina Jones poses with one of her community refrigerators. Jones offers free food for the community from a stocked community refrigerator called the Village Freedge. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The pandemic led to a food crisis in many low-income families, which is why Sherina Jones began a fundraised organization called the Village Freedge. The organization began when Jones scraped together money to purchase a community fridge. Two others were fundraised after the first, all with the intention for community members to take what they need and give what they can. Half of those who use the fridges are homeless, others include single, working mothers and laborers who need food for lunch. 

When one of the fridges was stolen before Thanksgiving, Jones felt it was a blow against the whole community. But instead of the act dampening the holidays, it led to a Christmas miracle. From one fridge being stolen, donations poured in to make up the difference and thensome. Multiple fridges were donated along with housing, boxes of food, and over $23,000. “People come by and stock the fridge during the evenings or buy a bulk of things and drop it off. I’m so appreciative,” Jones told The Associated Press. “We’ve all come together to take care of each other.”

“Peanuts” letters console older, isolated adults

Wesley Morgan shows a letter from one of his “Peanuts” pen pals. After being furloughed from his job at the Denver International Airport, Morgan began writing to over 500 older adults living in isolation due to the pandemic. (AP Photo/Jessie Wardarski)

Wesley Morgan owns an array of Peanuts paraphernalia. After he was furloughed from his job at the Denver International Airport, he decided to use some of his collection, namely his pieces of stationary, for good. Morgan decided to use his stationary to write to over 500 older adults isolating themselves during the pandemic. One hundred and forty-two responded, and many now write him consistently.

Morgan found people to write to through Facebook groups like “Forget Me Not” and “From the Heart” that give names of people who are wanting and willing to receive messages. When Nancy Sloane received a letter with a Snoopy stamp and card, she assumed this had to do with her interest in the character in high school. But after reading the card from Morgan, she decided to keep corresponding. “I’d read his letters and reread them,” she told The Associated Press. “It just cheers me up that there’s somebody, quite frankly, that cares about me.”

Artist makes 100 dolls for Lebanese children

Sama Chlawuit, left, and her sister Sima-Rita hold their dolls at their grandfather’s home. After the explosion in Beirut, painter Yolande Labaki made 100 dolls for children affected by the destruction. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

At 93-years-old, Yolande Labaki is an internationally recognized painter. Native to Lebanon, she watched the explosion in Beirut ravish the capitol, destroying lives, livelihoods and homes. All Labaki could think about were the children affected.

As a way to help she changed her medium from canvases to dolls and promised to finish 100 dolls by Christmas time. Having never designed dolls before, Labaki found it proved more difficult than she thought. She put special care into making the faces, painstakingly embroidering each one and ensuring they were not scary for the kids. 

Non-profit organizations helped Labaki distribute the dolls. Two recipients included Sama and Sima-Rita Chlawuit. The windows in their home blew out during the explosion. The young girls sleep with their dolls according to their father, Georges Chlawuit. “At least she thought of these poor kids after what has happened in the explosion,” he told the Associated Press. “May God keep her and give her good health. If it weren’t for how the Lebanese people came together, we wouldn’t have been able to stand back on our feet again.

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