Good News Thursday: Trio organizes donations for Tent City, Cookie Monster rock goes viral


Trio organizes donations for Tent City

Volunteers help residents of Tent City, Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest homeless encampment, shop for clothing and other goods at the Mutual Aid Free Store set up by local aid groups Bleach Impaired and Not Fade Away. (Magena Morris via AP)

Tent City in Charlotte is North Carolina’s largest homeless encampment and with the pandemic reducing the number of residents allowed in homeless shelters, it’s increasing. But despite the circumstances, volunteers Magena Morris, Tyler Bone and Nic White, are helping out.

Once a month the three bring racks of clothes and shoes for the community for a pop-up shop as a way to donate the clothes in a humanizing way. “We see them smiling,” White told the Associated Press. “Because they’re like, ‘Oh, you cared about me enough to provide me the opportunity to choose my own clothing in a way that dignifies me.’”

Along with clothing, they also provide well-needed goods like batteries, masks and books. The Mutual Aid Free Store receives its goods from local aid groups Bleach Impaired and Not Fade Away. When the pandemic first began, the trio put out donation boxes in front of local businesses. The businesses surpassed the amount of donations expected, so Morris and Bone repurposed their website to direct people to donation boxes and how to donate. Donations range from day to day needs and even special projects. When one man mentioned he lost a graphic novel he cared for, Morris came back the next day with the novel in hand for him. Morris, Bone and White are now working on getting people internet access, charging ports and other necessities for getting a job. 

“Our mutual aid free store is how we build relationships with this community,” Morris told the Associated Press. “It is not going to solve homelessness. It does meet needs, though — it meets needs to sustain life, and that’s why it’s valuable.”

Midnight Cafeteria feeds stray cats

Street cat “Flower” is fed by volunteer Yuju Huang at a Midnight Cafeteria in Taipei, Taiwan. The cafeteria is meant to give the cats a place to rest while making feeding them less messy. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

In Taipei, Taiwan small wooden houses are scattered along the city. Painted by Taiwenese artists, these houses contain very particular guests: stray cats. “Midnight Cafeteria” is an initiative launched by math teacher Hung Pei-ling to help manage the stray cat problem in Taiwan. Forty-five houses are set up for the cats to stay in and volunteers feed and medicate the cats in their area. 

The purpose of the initiative is to take care of the cats and ensure they are less of a nuisance to the community. People tend to feed stray cats and the mess gets left behind. The houses keep them in one area to live and eat, and it allows volunteers to recognize which cats are injured and need to be spayed. “We want to push forward this philosophy that you don’t have to be part of a very top-level association or something that takes up all of your time,” Pei-ling told the Associated Press. “You can just be one person doing something a little bit at a time, a little bit, and taken all together, you can achieve a lot.”

Cookie Monster gem goes viral

Unveiling the insides of a gem intrigues and excites; an unseemingly grey, rough rock on the outside cracks open and reveals dazzling sparkle and colors on the inside. But one in particular has caught the Internet’s attention. The inside of a gem Mike Bower posted on Facebook revealed the likeness to the famous dessert devouring monster, Cookie Monster. 

Gemologist Lucas Fassari found the gem in Brazil in November and gave it to Bower, a longtime friend. Bower’s Facebook page is full of gem unveiling videos but this one in particular reached all ends of the internet, even getting a response for Cookie Monster himself on Twitter. The gem bid for $10,000, but Bower intends on keeping it for now. “At this point we are keeping the stone,” he told NBC News. “It will most likely end up in a museum or high-end collection or (with) a very special person, but for the time being we are enjoying it.”

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