Ring of good deedsClaudiophotographyAs Sarah Darling of Kansas City, Missouri, dropped some change in a homeless man’s cup, she didn’t realize her engagement ring fell in too. When Billy Ray Harris, the man holding the cup, found the ring later, he got it appraised—and was offered $4,000 on the spot. Instead of selling it, though, he saved it for Darling, who came back the next day. To thank Harris, Darling and her husband set up a crowdfunding page to raise $1,000 for him. But donors went above and beyond, giving more than $190,000 to Harris. The money helped him make a down payment on a house and buy a car, and the media attention helped him reunite with his family, who hadn’t seen him in 16 years, according to TODAY.
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ParamedicmichaeljungChris Trokey was born ten weeks early and in need of a trustworthy doctor. His parents found Michael Shannon, MD, a pediatrician who stayed with the baby for two nights after he came down with a life-threateningly high fever. Thirty years later and all grown up, Trokey, a paramedic, was called in to help at the site of a car wreck. The car was on fire with a man still stuck inside. After firefighters helped put out the flames and Jaws of Life opened the car, Trokey brought the injured man into an ambulance. He learned the rescued victim’s name was Michael Shannon—the very same Michael Shannon who’d saved his life as a baby.
Coming back aroundsheffAfter 20-year-old Kalem Millard died in an ATV accident, his parents, Bill and Tish, decided to donate his organs. Kalem’s pancreas went to Jake MacKinnon, who had struggled with type 1 diabetes since he was five years old. Jake’s mom, Janice MacKinnon, reached out to the grieving parents a few months later, and the families became friends. Ten years later, Bill needed a new kidney after diabetes left him with kidney failure. Janice immediately offered to donate her own organ, giving back what Bill’s son had given her own child a decade before, according to SFGATE.
Best bill everantoniodiazHaving spent the night putting out a warehouse fire, New Jersey firefighters Paul Hullings and Tim Young went to a diner for breakfast and a big cup of coffee. Instead a check, their waitress, Liz Woodward, handed them a note thanking them for their service, according to ABC News. Touched that she’d covered their bill, Young made a Facebook status telling his friends to leave Woodward a big tip if she’s ever their waitress. But that’s not all. He also found the GoFundMe page Woodward had created to raise money for a wheelchair-accessible van for her father. After Young shared it on Facebook, the money came pouring in, raising more than $86,000.
A dollar to a salarySunnyMeansSixteenOn one of the coldest nights of the month, a homeless man entered a 7-Eleven in Salem, Massachusetts, where Ava Lins was working, according to Boston. Her heart went out to the man, so the 19-year-old offered him a small cup of coffee. As the man was leaving, though, Lins’ boss came in and yelled at the man for stealing the $1 drink. Lins claimed the man had paid, but confessed the next day and covered the cost herself. After that shift, though, a coworker called to tell Lins she was off the schedule. When the media found the story, hundreds of people reached out to offer her a new job. She accepted a position as administrative assistant with Citizens For Adequate Housing—a way better gig than her former 7-Eleven position.
Packing it upLaborantWhen Glen James found more than $40,000 in cash and travelers checks, along with a passport, in an abandoned backpack in a Boston strip mall, he didn’t keep it to himself. The homeless man turned the bag into the police, who gave him a plaque at a civil ceremony, according to TODAY. A Virginia man more than 500 miles away heard about the story and set up a GoFundMe to raise money for James. The page raised more than $160,000—about four times more than he'd found in that backpack.
Car troubleToa55A weird noise from their car forced Sara Berg and her cousin, Lisa Meier, to pull over on the highway. The car had a flat tire, but neither knew how to fix it. Seeing the women in need, Victor Giesbrecht pulled over and helped them get back on the road, saying “Someone up above put me in the right place at the right time,” according to the Star Tribune. Minutes later, the women would get to return the favor. They saw Giesbrecht’s car on the side of the road just a couple miles later and drove over to see what was wrong. Greisbecht’s wife waved them over, frantically saying he’d had a heart attack. He had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. Berg, a certified nursing assistant, performed CPR while Meier called 911. Thanks to their help, Greisbecht survived.
Piggy bank paybackEugenio-MarongiuSeven-year-old Jack Swanson had spent months saving chore money for an iPad. But when he heard that someone had vandalized a local mosque, he emptied his piggy bank—all $20—to help. "It’s 20 bucks, but coming from Jack collecting his pennies it’s worth 20 million bucks to me and to our community," Faisal Naeem, who sits on the mosque’s board, told Metro. International human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar heard of the little boy’s generosity and Jack a new iPad to say thanks.
Do you live in a place where people pay it forward? Then help us in our search for Nicest Place in America by nominating it today! If chosen, it will appear on an upcoming cover of Reader's Digest!