Happy Birthday to us!
One year ago this weekend, my hands were shaking as I pressed send on the very first edition of The Good Stuff. Our little team had spent months dreaming, planning, strategizing, designing and drafting, all with one goal in mind: To create something that brought people joy.
We never could have imagined the joy you have brought us in return.
If I had to describe The Good Stuff in one word, it would be “people.” Yes, it’s inelegant. It’s not even an adjective. But whenever the news gets hard to handle, it’s worth remembering that, at the heart of every Good Stuff story, there’s someone who is leaving the world a little bit better than they found it. Someone like you.
So, thank you. Thank you for spending time with us every weekend, for your ideas, insights and wisdom, and for spreading good news in whatever form to those around you. Here’s to all the Good Stuff to come.
Our favorites this week
Get going with some of our most popular good news stories of the week
A sum for your supper
Bronx convenience store owner Ahmed Alwan has a genius idea to help customers stay sharp and get some well-deserved grub. When people come in his shop, he poses a challenge: Solve a math problem, and get five seconds to grab any food in the store, for free. The challenges have gone viral on the short video app TikTok, with excited patrons flexing their math skills and Alwan encouraging them like a game show host. Alwan pays for everything out of his own pocket, but the money isn’t what matters. He says he wants to help low-income community members save for higher priority expenses, such as rent and utilities. A lot of the customers that come in to the shop are familiar faces, and Alwan hopes their moments of mathematical fame will encourage other people to support the store’s efforts or engage in their own fun ways of giving back.
True love never dies
Rich Cox passed away of throat cancer in 2012, but the Kentucky man made sure his wife would always be reminded of how much he loved her. Every year, around Valentine’s Day and her birthday (which are only a day apart), Tracey Cox gets a beautiful flower arrangement from her late husband, complete with a loving message. The couple’s four children know Rich planned out years of deliveries, although the specifics are a closely guarded secret. Regardless, they say the flowers will keep on coming. “Every time I get them, it really brings back a lot of emotions and joyful tears,” Tracey says. “It really brings back all the memories we were able to make together.”
One good deed deserves another
Acia Williams has known her friend and mentor Chet Bennett for 20 years. He owns the the Washington, D.C. beauty shop where she started her career and worked as a manager. Well, at least, he used to own it. In 2018, Bennett found out he needed a kidney, and Williams was moved to apply as a donor. When she came back as a match, she didn’t hesitate, and the pair went through a successful transplant procedure in April of 2019. It’s the kind of gift that’s hard to top, but Bennett managed: He gave Williams the salon, which she had always dreamed of owning. “I can’t begin to thank you enough for you giving me life,” Bennett said in a message to his friend. “But we can start with you making your dream a reality by having your own salon.”
An extra slice of happiness
We couldn’t resist adding another story to our favorites. C’mon, it’s our birthday! A few weeks ago we told you about Maj. Bill White, a 104-year-old Marine Corps veteran who asked for people to send him valentines so he could make new memories. Well, they delivered! He has gotten hundreds of thousands of them, so many that they cover the walls and fill up the tables and rooms at his retirement home. In fact, Guinness World Records were called in to do an official count to see if any records were broken. The avalanche of kindness has also given White and his friends some extra company: Community members have teamed up to read all the letters out loud, one after the other.
Raise a glass to…
Chitetsu Watanabe, the world’s oldest living man! Watanabe turns 113 next month, but he got an early birthday present when Guinness World Records confirmed his superlative status. How does one stay young at the ripe old age of (almost) 113? Well, Watanabe loves sweets like brown sugar and custard, but he says the real secret to longevity is to “not to get angry and keep a smile on your face.”
You gotta see this
Representation. Matters. Just look at this sweet little boy, enthralled by an ad at Target featuring someone just like him! Oliver Garza-Pena has caudal regression syndrome and uses a wheelchair to get around. His mother, Demi Garza Pena, said he stopped dead in his tracks during a recent Target run, and couldn’t take his eyes off the poster. She shared the photo on social media, thanking the store for showing different types of diversity. Her kind message even made it to the boy in the poster and his family!
Wanna get away?
It’s easy to fall for the Guianas, the name given to the independent nations of Guyana and Suriname plus the French territory of Guyane (also known as French Guiana). Located just north of Brazil, the region is 80% covered with rainforest and boasts a blinding array of wildlife. Interesting fact: “Guyana” or “Guiana” is an Amerindian word that means “Land of Many Waters.” You can’t get much more watery than the massive, single-drop Kaieteur Falls in Guyana.
Love is the greatest force in the universe. It is the heartbeat of the moral cosmos. He who loves is a participant in the being of God.
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King was asked what he thought the meaning of love was, and he responded in this touching, newly-discovered letter from the mid-1960s. (As for the reference to God, keep in mind before King became a civil rights legend, he was an influential preacher.)
Tell us something good
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Every year, a crowd of brave, bedecked daredevils lines up along the ocean shore in Virginia Beach, and charges headfirst into the frigid winter waters. It’s one of several Polar Plunge events organized throughout the state by the Virginia Special Olympics. Not only are the plunges a great opportunity to dress up and have fun, they also raise big money for Special Olympics events in the state. North Carolina resident Sam Catron and his family have been attending the plunges for 15 years. Catron’s brother, Scott, is a longtime VA Special Olympics athlete. “Not only is this a fun event but it’s an awesome way to support Scott and his fellow Special Olympics athletes,” Catron says.
Impact your world
Break out the binoculars this weekend and give the National Audobon Society a hand with their annual Great Backyard Bird Count! All you have to do is create a free account, keep an eye out for birds in your backyard for at least 15 minutes, and then record the birds you find. Your input will help the Audobon Society learn more about local bird populations and how they’re growing or changing. Plus, birdwatching is good for your mental health. It’s a total win-win. Hurry, though. The Great Backyard Bird Count ends February 17th (Sorry, weekday readers! But now you can mark your calendars for next year’s event.)
Shameless animal video
There’s always time for cute animal videos. That time is now.
It’s time to break open another one from the all-time classic vault. Where my Boston Terrier lovers at?! (Click here to view)