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Turkey & Dressing With A Side of Hope and Happiness

Sherry Rucherman




Do You Smell Pumpkin Pie?

If you live in Massachusetts or Rhode Island and happen to catch a whiff of holiday cheer while passing a slightly weathered station wagon, you’ve just encountered Ty and Vicky Shen.

This father and daughter team have become local heroes, especially around the holidays, since they began delivering hot, healthy meals across the state in 2001. They love the open road, but the real joy is in the reaction they receive from those they serve.

They’re not in this alone. The Shens are only one of the teams regularly volunteering with Community Servings, a Massachusetts non-profit food program which specializes in modified meals for families and individuals with specific medical restrictions or other needs, often due to severe or chronic illnesses. That means the Shens and other volunteers reach households often unserved by similar programs because their needs are so specific.

Of course, neither the Shens nor Community Services forget about the families and caregivers involved. Every spouse, in-law, nurse, and child receives their own hot holiday meal.

The extra time and effort is more than worth it, they assure us.

“Those who can help, should,” says Ty. “Regardless if it’s time or other resources, helping our fellow man is our responsibility.” Vicky seems to agree.

“Volunteering with my dad is one of my favorite things to do,” she says. “I get to spend time with him, and the people at Community Servings are so wonderful. Most importantly, it feels great to do something on a daily basis helps people’s lives be a little bit better.”

Bringing It Together

Food is more than an essential requirement for life. It often means security, and comfort. Sometimes it represents plenty, but even in humble circumstances it can facilitate a sense unity and thanks.

“One of the most important elements of the holidays this time of year is togetherness,” says a representative from Community Services. “Sharing a meal has been a demonstration of trust, intimacy, and togetherness over the centuries and across cultures.”

That togetherness doesn’t just start when meals are delivered; it’s part of the process from the very beginning. Community Services volunteers prepare each dish on site, paying careful attention to the different restrictions and dietary needs they’ll be serving that day. Teams like the Shens spend most of their time delivering, but they’re no strangers to peeling potatoes or chopping cabbage or even – in a pinch – stuffing a bird or two.

It’s an enormous undertaking each and every time, but what determines whether or not it’s enjoyable work is the people involved, and the mindset they bring to the task. And most of the time, that makes Community Services as much of a family as those they serve during the holidays and throughout the year.

“Each year, our volunteers give more than 55,000 hours of service, which is the equivalent to almost 30 full time employees,” says David Waters, CEO of Community Servings. “There’s no way we could do any of this without their passion and their commitment.”

That passion and commitment are quickly driving Community Services towards their eight millionth meal. That’s right – eight with six zeroes after it! But the Shens, like most of those involved, don’t think of it in terms of the millions, or even the thousands of meals prepared and delivered each day.

To them, it’s always about the next door opened. The next family served. The next face smiling in recognition and appreciation. It’s always about the one at a time.

And as long as it’s up to the Shens, it always will be.



Little Boy Dressed as a Lion Meets Real Lions at the Zoo

Mackenzie Freeman



Many children like to dress up when out in public, even when there is no special occasion. Some little boys and girls wear superhero capes or costumes, while many little boys and girls can be seen wearing their favorite Disney princess gowns or dance or sportswear. Children aren’t self-conscious about sharing what they enjoy, and can have fun and use their imaginations in almost any situation. One little boy named Aryeh enjoys dressing up as a lion cub, and he decided to wear his costume to the Atlanta Zoo when he went on a day visit with his family. His family loves him and lets him express his joy with his favorite things.

A Trip to the Zoo

Of course, little Ayreh had to visit the lion enclosure. Only 11 months old, Aryeh had no fear as he got as close as possible to the lions. Aryeh and the adult lion met at the glass first, putting their “paws” up to the glass and looking at each other with interest. The child and the lion met as equals, enjoying the novel experience with openness.

Babies Check Out the Baby Lion

Once their momma had checked out Aryeh the baby human lion, the baby lion cubs decided they wanted to see what was so interesting. To the delight of everyone watching, Aryeh the human lion cub then spent some minutes interacting with the cubs, with all of them clearly having a great time.

All Good Things

Unfortunately, the experience proved to be a little too exciting for the lions, who seemed to be getting worked up. Aryeh and his family moved on to enjoy some more exhibits at the zoo.

The Atlanta Zoo

The Atlanta Zoo has a lot to see and do, especially for little ones like Aryeh. The lion exhibit is part of the African Savanna area, and also holds African bush elephants, meerkats, warthogs, zebras and giraffes. The Ford African Rain Forest area has gorillas, different species of lemurs, Angolan colobus monkeys, and an aviary of African birds.

Perhaps the most interesting exhibit houses giant pandas. The Atlanta Zoo is one of only four locations in the US where people can see the amazing creatures. 

The children’s petting zoo is called the Outback Station Children’s Zoo, and children can get close to and interact with different species of goats and sheep and two kunekune pigs, small domestic pigs from New Zealand.

Learning from Children

The way Aryeh was interacting with the lions wasn’t just a lesson for the people there but for all of us. What we look like on the outside can easily be disguised, but we can still meet others with open hearts and look for our similarities. 

Aryeh means “lion” in Hebrew, so it is not surprising that he would identify with other lions. Even as a toddler, little Aryeh can meet even frightening looking creatures with no fear.

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Woman Is Shocked to Find Out Her Dog Ate More Than 20 Pacifiers

Mackenzie Freeman



When a mother kept buying pacifiers for her baby but could never buy enough of them because they would always vanish, she started to wonder what was happening to the binkies. She didn’t have a clue as to why she couldn’t find them anywhere.

As the number of pacifiers the woman had in her possession diminished, the woman noticed that her dog Dovey was rapidly losing weight. Since she was a responsible pet owner who was concerned about her hound, she brought her to an animal doctor for an examination.

Dovey’s mom couldn’t give the veterinarian any helpful information about her dog’s weight loss, so the vet proceeded to find out more about the problem with the help of a stomach radiograph. What the image showed was a surprise to the doctor as well as the dog’s owner.

Dr. Rispoli saw a large number of pacifiers in the dog’s stomach. When the vet told the woman about what the image showed him, she started to piece things together.

She told the animal doctor that her father had mentioned that her grandmother saw Dovey leap onto the table one day and snatch a pacifier with her teeth. She said many pacifiers had disappeared. Who would have thought the dog ate them.

Luckily, the pacifiers were successfully removed. Dr. Rispoli took 21 of them out of Dovey’s stomach.

It’s common for dogs to consume non-edible items. Some dogs like to eat socks, while others will eat panties or small toys. Dovey happened to enjoy eating pacifiers.

Since ingesting things that are not meant to be eaten is dangerous, it’s important that you keep anything small enough for your dog to eat away from it. Consuming items that cannot be digested can cause a blockage in the intestines. A dog can get very sick when this happens, and it could die. Surgery may be needed to remedy the problem.

If your dog likes to eat socks or panties, keep these items in a draw your pet cannot access. When these garments need to be washed, be sure to put them in the type of hamper your pet cannot get into. After doing the laundry, don’t leave your clean clothes in a laundry basket. Put them in your dresser drawer right away.

It may be more difficult to keep small toys away from your dog if you have young children, but you must do your best. To minimize the risk of having your dog gobble up a toy, keep your pet in another room when your children are playing with their toys. When your little ones are done playing, lock the toys up in a toy chest so your dog can’t get to them.  

If you know someone who owns a dog, please suggest that they read this article. It will make them aware of the fact that there are few things some dogs won’t eat. It will open their eyes to this problem and make them more aware of what their pet may be chewing on. It could save an animal’s life and prevent a broken heart.

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The Oldest Girl Scout Cookie Seller Still Selling

Leslie Tander



Most people reaching the upper range of their 90s in time and years spend a lot of their waking hours focused on their memories as well as doing a lot of talking with remaining friends. And in one’s late 90s not a lot of one’s peers are left to talk to either. However, Ronnie Backenstoe is not your typical senior citizen. She never has been typical her whole life, and that goes back to well before the 1930s.

Her First Box of Cookies Was Sold 88 Years Ago

Ronnie as a young girl joined the Girl Scouts in 1932. The native of Lake George, New York, first earned her green suit and the right to wear at the impressionable age of 10, and she was hooked on the organization even before that. However, her mother wouldn’t let Ronnie join until she was a decade old, and the little girl counted down the days until her 10th birthday waiting anxiously. As soon as Ronnie’s birthday arrived, however, she was off to join the Scouts and the local troop.

Adulthood Didn’t Change Ronnie’s Dedication

And, just like generations of girl scouts after Ronnie’s initial year, she put on her uniform every spring and focused on selling as many Girl Scout cookies in her neighborhood. Ronnie’ dedication paid off; she shot up through the Scout ranks and merit badges quickly, and the dedication didn’t stop in her teen years. As an early adult, Ronnie also earned the extremely rare distinction of staying associated with the Girls Scouts as an active member, and she took on the role of the Camp Mosey Wood director, working with young scouts and staff in the Poconos Mountain area. From that notable position Ronnie was later promoted to a field director position which took her across the country for the Girl Scouts, visiting troops and facilities nationally as well as in other countries too.

Officially, Ronnie put in over 45 years of career service with the Girls Scouts. However, in 1976 it was time to hang up her official hat and ease into a more relaxed phase of life as a senior. It didn’t take long for her to feel the need to be involved again though. And, eventually, Ronnie starting finding ways to stay active with the Scouts again, even as a volunteer instead of paid employee. As Ronnie noted when asked, scouting is simply part of her life and living; it teaches lessons in living right.

Every Box of Girl Scout Cookies Makes a Difference

The world today is a very different place now versus what it was back in 1932 the first year Ronnie sold cookies to customers to support the Girl Scouts. However, believe it or not, Ronnie still goes out and sells cookies every year. Today the boxes are lot more than the 15 cents price she sold them for as a 10-year-old girl. However, the concept is still the same; support the Girl Scouts one little bit at a time. The aggregate effort eventually adds up to greater things. Back in 1932 when Ronnie sold her first cookies there were only three types available. Today there are now seven different flavors, but each one is labeled with the Girl Scouts logo that Ronnie stands behind as an example of Girl Scout dedication. And Ronnie is still going at the spritely age of 98. The cookies are a bit fresher however, produced every year by the Girl Scouts for waiting customers. And Ronnie is there to sell them every box she can to keep the Scouts going.

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