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10 California Stories That Will Make You Smile for the Holidays

California Student Work Entertainment
by Paige Smith Dec 24, 2014
1. Cops pulled people over to give them ice cream instead of tickets.

A group of police officers from Quincy, California decided to challenge their generally negative reputation and rewrite the script by handing out ice cream to unsuspecting citizens. The police officers pulled people over, asked a few intimidating questions, told the drivers to wait a moment, then returned with Wall’s ice cream cones for a sweet surprise.

2. An elderly man eats at In-N-Out Burger with a photo of his late wife across from him.

An elderly man in Fremont, California never leaves the house without a photo of his late wife, who passed away after 55 years of marriage. In-N-Out customers have regularly seen the man dining alone while staring at an older photo of him and his wife together. The man’s quiet display of devotion and love went viral and touched millions of people when an In-N-Out patron shared a photo of him on social media.

3. Fishermen discover a heartwarming message in a bottle.

Fishermen in Francis, California found a glass bottle this summer with a note tucked inside. The note was from a man named Mel, who had recently passed away. Mel wrote that his family was “laying [him] to rest” in the place he loved most — the ocean. He kindly asked that those who find his message post a photo of themselves to his Facebook page then send him off on his journey again.

4. A 76-year-old man returns to running after having his leg amputated.

A distance runner for 60 years, Laguna Beach local Andy Bailey was heartbroken when an out-of-control van hit him in his own driveway, severely injuring his lower right leg. Andy was devastated and felt hopeless as doctors struggled to fight the infections developing in his leg. In order to return to his passion, Andy made the decision to have his leg amputated. He has since undergone a remarkable recovery and experienced a renewed love for the sport of running. Andy celebrated his health and athleticism by participating in the 37th Annual Dana Point Turkey Trot, one of the nation’s largest and most successful trots.

5. Hope for Paws rescued an abandoned dog and gave him a new life.

Eldad Hagar, the founder of the animal rescue organization Hope for Paws, stumbled upon an abandoned dog hiding under a trailer in Compton, California. The dog was terrified of human touch and had severely matted hair. With the help of The Mutt Scouts, Hope for Paws saved the dog and gave him a radical physical transformation, a place in a loving foster home, and a rejuvenated spirit.

6. Yucaipa neighborhood came together for an awesome display of flashing lights and community spirit.

A neighborhood in Yucaipa, California collaborated to synchronize the Christmas lights on their homes and in their front yards to flash to the beat of various holiday songs like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards of Winter” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas.” The impressive light show is a testament to the neighborhood’s holiday spirit and teamwork.

7. Laundry Love gives the gift of clean clothes to California’s poor and homeless.

Laundry Love, an organization that started in Ventura 10 years ago, has now spread to over one hundred locations across Southern California, including one of its biggest branches in Huntington Beach. Not only does the organization’s volunteers provide free washing and drying for homeless and underprivileged families, they foster relationships with the people who come in, and help give them the confidence and support they need to look for work or save money for housing.

8. Project Happy Hearts encourages kids with congenital heart disease to do what makes their hearts happy.

Project Happy Hearts is all about encouraging others to “Live a life that makes their hearts happy.” The organization works with local artists and clothing designers to give back to children affected by congenital heart disorders. The organization’s founder, Heidi Burns, started Project Happy Hearts in Orange County and has expanded the project’s reach to multiple US cities and countries across the globe. Project Happy Hearts wants to shape the world into a healthier and happier place by inspiring people to wake up each day, ask themselves what will bring them joy, and then find a way to make it happen.

9. Orange County construction company donated 150 bikes to children and teens.

Every year in December, the Irvine construction company Snyder Langston spearheads Bike Build, a project that delivers fully assembled bicycles, helmets and locks to underprivileged children and teenagers. The company’s employees purchase the bikes, put them together and deliver them the week before Christmas with help from the organizations Orangewood Children’s Foundation and The Wooden Floor. This year, 75% of the bikes were full-size to accommodate the many teenagers and young adults who will be riding them. Employee Dave Stelter said, “It’s really heartwarming to know that these kids will be able to use the bikes to get to school or a job.”

10. San Francisco transformed old city buses into shower stations for the homeless.

San Francisco resident Doniece Sandoval started Lava Mae, a decommissioned Muni bus turned shower station for the homeless, to “deliver dignity one shower at a time.” Since its launch, Lava Mae has given nearly 500 homeless people more than 700 showers. The project’s success with the first bus has led to fundraising for more buses in 2015. Sandoval’s hope is that easy access to showers will provide the city’s homeless population with more opportunities and renewed confidence to interview for jobs and go to work.

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