Should Make-A-Wish trip go to child who beat cancer?
July 19th, 2012
01:40 PM ET

Should Make-A-Wish trip go to child who beat cancer?

The Disney World dreams of a 4-year-old Ohio girl who’s recovering from leukemia are looking better this week after plans for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to pay for the trip were scrapped.

The girl, McKenna May, completed intensive treatment in June for the cancer she was diagnosed with more than two years ago. It was that treatment that prevented her from going to Disney when the Make-A-Wish trip was first discussed in January 2011, McKenna’s grandmother, Lori Helppie, said Thursday.

But McKenna is now on once-a-month aftercare visits that would allow time for her to make the trip to the Magic Kingdom, her mother, Whitney Hughes, told CNN.

However, McKenna’s father, William May of Toledo, Ohio, who was never married to Hughes, says Make-A-Wish’s money would be better spent on terminally ill children who will never get to experience Disney otherwise since his daughter is free of cancer.

He’s refusing to sign paperwork that would allow the foundation to pay for McKenna’s trip.

“There’s children out there that deserve a trip like this that will never get to experience it,” May, 28, told CNN Thursday. “My daughter can go when she’s older and can remember it. I’ll pay for it.”


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Filed under: Charity • Health • Ohio
May 16th, 2012
01:26 PM ET

The gift of Charles: Giving back

Forest and Tremica Thompson, who invited CNN to document the final week of their son Charles’ life, have received notes of thanks and support from across America - and as far away as Zimbabwe.

"I just hope it changes people's thoughts on the death of children and helps families like ours," Tremica says.

Since the story was published, many have asked how they can help the family. They have opened a memorial fund called “The Gift of Charles” through Wells Fargo.


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Filed under: California • Charity • Health • Hospice Care
Update: Charity reaches a milestone
Modest Needs Foundation lets donors decide where their money goes.
November 1st, 2011
05:22 PM ET

Update: Charity reaches a milestone

Modest Needs Foundation, a charitable organization that lets donors decide where their money goes, recently made its 10,000th grant, founder and president Dr. Keith Taylor said.
The organization opened its doors in 2002. A story about it in December 2009 sparked a historic outpouring of generosity from readers.

The 10,000th grant, made in late October, sent $750 to pay an Indiana woman's overdue medical bill and maintain her good credit rating, Taylor said.

The organization's first grant, in 2002, went to an uninsured woman who needed $200 to get a mammogram. The mammogram found a malignant tumor, for which she received successful treatment. The woman told Taylor that $200 saved her life.

"I honestly never realized until that moment that these grants had the power to really change lives," Taylor said. "That letter changed my life – that's for certain."


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Filed under: Charity • Economy
July 24th, 2011
11:05 PM ET

After girl's death, selfless act lives on

[Updated July 25, 4:25 p.m.] For her 9th birthday last month, Rachel Beckwith told people that instead of giving her presents, they should donate to a charity providing clean water to families in developing nations.

The Seattle-area girl came up with $220, short of her $300 goal.  She figured she’d try to raise more money next year.

Then came the crash.

Rachel died Saturday, taken off life support at a Seattle hospital three days after she and six other people were injured in a 14-vehicle pileup on Interstate 90 near her home in Bellevue, Washington, CNN affiliate KOMO reported.

But before her death, as word of Wednesday’s crash spread, so did news about Rachel’s fundraising wish. Her church took to Facebook, Twitter and its own website to promote her cause.

As of Monday afternoon, Rachel’s online fundraising page for the nonprofit group "charity: water" had landed more than $130,000 in donations, from more than 2,400 donors.

"Rest in peace knowing that your wish is helping people in ways that you could have never imagined," one contributor wrote on the campaign site.

Ryan Meeks, one of Rachel's pastors, said that "life is coming out of this death, with Rachel's generosity."

"It's inspired many, and it’s been amazing over the last 24 hours," Meeks told CNN's Don Lemon on "CNN Newsroom" Saturday night.


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Filed under: Charity • Washington state
Thursday's intriguing people
Braylon Edwards is reportedly spending about $1 million to put 100 high school graduates through college.
June 9th, 2011
11:09 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Braylon Edwards

The New York Jets wide receiver is picking up the college tuition tabs of 100 Cleveland high school students, according to The Washington Post. Edwards is keeping a promise he made to the students in the “Advance 100” program in 2008, when they were in the eighth grade. The former Cleveland Brown, in an apparent reference to LeBron James, tweeted over the weekend, "As the 2nd most hated man in Clev & a man of my word, today I will honor a promise made to 100 students in Cleveland years ago." Edwards’ arrangement with the students required each to complete 15 hours of community service and maintain a 3.5 GPA, in addition to demonstrating good conduct and avoiding unexcused absences. The students' tuitions are estimated to cost about $1 million.


Oxfam: 'Broken' food system leaving millions hungry
The poor reach for food from the table of the rich during an Oxfam-produced performance in front of Germany's Brandenburg Gate on Tuesday.
May 31st, 2011
10:31 AM ET

Oxfam: 'Broken' food system leaving millions hungry

Climate change and decreasing natural resources will increase pressure on food supplies in the coming decades, threatening millions of people with chronic hunger, Oxfam International said in a report Tuesday.

The international humanitarian relief and development organization calls the world's food system "broken," saying food price increases have driven 44 million people worldwide into poverty just this year.

“Our world is capable of feeding all of humanity yet one in seven of us are hungry today," Oxfam Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs says in a press release.

"As climate change impacts become increasingly severe and fertile land and fresh water supplies become increasingly scarce, feeding the world will get harder still. Millions more men, women and children will go hungry unless we transform our broken food system,” Hobbs says.

Oxfam puts the blame for the crisis on governments, businesses and wealthy elites.


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Filed under: Agriculture • Charity • Food • World
Tuesday's intriguing people
This year will be Jerry Lewis' last as host of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon.
May 17th, 2011
09:22 AM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

Jerry Lewis

The comedian and entertainer will make his final appearance as the host of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon. In a statement released on, Lewis said, "It's time for an all new Telethon era. This year's six hour prime-time telethon on September 4 will be spectacular, and I'm thrilled to be part of it." He'll continue on as National Chairman of MDA, a role he's held since the 1950s.

Gotta Watch: Vintage Sheen; women mechanics; Witherspoon on Avon
Charlie Sheen talks to Larry King in 1988 about "Platoon."
March 8th, 2011
09:45 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Vintage Sheen; women mechanics; Witherspoon on Avon

Sheen before the chaos– With all the buzz around Charlie Sheen’s recent media-documented meltdown, we thought we’d bring out some vintage Sheen to illustrate how his popularity rose in the first place. In this 1988 interview with Larry King, Sheen talks about his breakout role in the hit war movie “Platoon.”

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Thursday's intriguing people
Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford says there's an urgent need for solutions to gridlock.
March 3rd, 2011
03:28 PM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Bill Ford

The chairman of Ford Motor Co. is calling for an end to "global gridlock." During a presentation at the annual TED conference Wednesday, Ford said that as many as 4 billion automobiles will be on the earth by the year 2050 — extending traffic jams, delaying food provisions and stalling health care delivery. He's calling on a collective group of transportation officials, manufacturers and policy makers to develop a global solution to gridlock. "[Without it] our quality of life will be significantly compromised," he said.

Salman Khan

When the former hedge fund manager began posting humorous math tutorials on YouTube for his young cousins, they not only loved it, but it quickly earned a grass roots following. Today, the Khan Academy offers 2,000 such tutorials, ranging from basic addition to vector calculus - for free. Khan conducts all the tutorials for his audience of 1 million students. This past year, a northern California school district began using a Khan-developed curriculum that uses data analysis and self-paced learning to help its teachers better work with students individually. Following Khan's rousing presentation at the annual TED conference Wednesday, Khan supporter Bill Gates told the audience: "I think we've just gotten a glimpse into the future of education."

Peter Hatas

The homeless veteran has raised $20,000 toward converting the St. James hotel in North Toledo, Ohio, into a home for military veterans. An engineer by training, Hatas told Toledo's WUPX news that he needs just $55,000 more to make the project a reality. He has reportedly received e-mails of support from CSX railroad system, as well as the Veterans of the UAW. The building will give homeless veterans a place to eat, sleep and work, Hatas said. "A lot of these men and women on the streets have phenomenal skill traits," he said. "They are carpenters, brick layers, cement finishers, iron workers." He believes these contributions will keep the building in perfect condition.

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Filed under: Auto Industry • California • Charity • Education • Michigan • Most Intriguing People • Ohio • Technology • U.S. • YouTube
Girl Scout cookie sales can resume after city relents
The leafy, genteel streets of Savannah, Georgia, are a big draw for tourists -- and great for cookie sales.
March 2nd, 2011
01:16 PM ET

Girl Scout cookie sales can resume after city relents

It's a sweet ending to a story that was hard to swallow.

The city manager of Savannah, Georgia, has decreed that Girl Scouts may sell their famous cookies on the sidewalk in front of their founder's birthplace.

A city ordinance prohibits commercial sales in the public right of way, but the same ordinance allows the city manager to grant exemptions, according to the city's announcement of the decision.

Cookie sales in front of the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, a Savannah landmark, had been halted at the start of the four-week cookie season because there was no private space between the building and the street, CNN affiliate WJCL-TV reported.

However, City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney issued the exemption late Tuesday to allow the tradition to continue.

"We get a lot of tourists who get real excited about taking the girls' pictures under the sign because you're seeing actual Girl Scouts in uniforms with Girl Scout cookies at the Girl Scout birthplace," Fran Arnsdorff, co-leader and "cookie mom" of Savannah's Troop 511, told CNN affiliate WSAV-TV.

Sales will resume Saturday, WSAV reported.

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Filed under: Charity • Georgia • Girl Scouts
Unknown donor gives $6,000 ring to Salvation Army
This ring, appraised at $6,000, was donated anonymously to the Salvation Army in Dalton, Georgia.
February 15th, 2011
11:44 AM ET

Unknown donor gives $6,000 ring to Salvation Army

The Salvation Army operation in Dalton, Georgia, expects to ring up a substantial sum, thanks to an unusual gift from an anonymous couple.

The charity says a woman handed one of its holiday season bell-ringers a diamond wedding ring wrapped in a plastic bag, along with a note reading, "My husband and I are still deeply in love. We think you could make better use of this ring than us. (Signed) All for Jesus."

The ring, appraised at $6,000, is being offered to private bidders at Maryville Jewelers in Dalton, CNN affiliate WXIA reports.

"It tells me that people have a heart even in these trying times," Salvation Army Maj. Henry Hunter told the station. "They're not focused on self."

The sale of the ring will help reduce the charity's $50,000 deficit, Hunter said.

Maryville Jewelers will accept bids for the next three weeks.

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Filed under: Charity • Georgia • U.S.
Gotta Watch: Cliff rescue; Facebook back story; Dr. Donation; Conan
Rescuers save an injured man after he fell 300 feet from a cliff.
February 9th, 2011
11:13 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Cliff rescue; Facebook back story; Dr. Donation; Conan

If you fall down, I will lift you up – It certainly doesn't feel great to start your day with a 300 foot fall, but thankfully one California man had luck and some of the hardest working men in rescue on his side. In this harrowing video the man is discovered, examined, strapped up and shipped out. All in a day's work.


When Grinches Attack: A roundup of Christmas crime
December 24th, 2010
10:24 PM ET

When Grinches Attack: A roundup of Christmas crime

For most, Christmas is a time of good cheer and merrymaking.
But there are always a few – Grinches, Scrooges, Old St. Sicks – who spoil the fun.

Police in Forest Grove, Oregon, are still searching for the thieves that made off with about $100 from a Santa who raises funds for leukemia research during the holidays, according to CNN affiliate KOIN.

Mickey Johnson said he thought nothing of it Wednesday when three teenagers approached his holiday display in the yard.

“This one boy in the group came up like he was going to put money in the sock, picked the sock up and went running down the road,” he said.

Johnson said his holiday spirit is rooted in a good cause.

“It was about 10 years ago that my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia and I thought, 'Well, this’ll be a good opportunity to put a sock out and make donations to the Leukemia society.' ”

The community has more than replaced what was stolen, according to CNN affiliate KATU in Portland.

A West Hartford, Connecticut, woman is spending Christmas behind bars after allegedly throwing a Christmas tree at her parents during an argument, according to CNN affiliate WFSB in Connecticut.

Francheska Terreo’s parents were not injured in the fight, but police said the 19-year-old, who had been drinking, also allegedly threw a phone at her mother, police told WFSB.

In Flint, Michigan, a burglar took Christmas presents from a family on Wednesday, according to MLive.

Among the items the family reported missing were a DVD player, a bicycle, one pair each of Spider-Man skates and Tinkerbell skates.

In Stockholm, Sweden, two men dressed as Santa Claus managed to ambush a guard of the Swedish Royal Palace and steal his gun, according to the Herald Sun website.

The guards were carrying loaded AK-5 automatic rifles, the Sun quotes a Swedish police officer as saying. "The two men, dressed in Father Christmas clothes and masks, entered a restricted area by a guard post, hit him and then ran off," Officer Anders Krook said, according to the Sun.

Residents in Newport Beach, California, hope the Grinch that has been stealing packages from the doorsteps of area homes has been pinched after surveillance images led to the arrest of a woman, according to CNN affiliate KTLA.

Police say Melanie Kathleen Astin of Newport Beach is suspected in a package-stealing spree that ran for several weeks and victimized 10 to 20 homes, according to KTLA.

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Filed under: Charity • Crime • Justice
Gap apologizes for 'FEED USA' bags made in China
December 17th, 2010
09:14 PM ET

Gap apologizes for 'FEED USA' bags made in China

The Gap has apologized for "incorrect signage" in some stores that led to allegations that the clothing retailer was passing off bags produced in China as products that were "Made in the USA."

The mega-retailer is fixing signs in stores and online to ensure customers are not led to believe that its denim FEED USA bags, the sales of which benefit the anti-hunger charity, FEED Projects, were made in the U.S.

"There are several bags in the FEED USA collection.  The FEED USA Canvas Tote bag and the limited edition one-of-a-kind Bandana Bag are both made in the USA," spokeswoman Renate Geerlings said in an e-mail.

"However, the FEED USA Denim Bucket bags are made in China, and should not have been connected to the made in the USA signs. We apologize for any inaccurate messaging."


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Filed under: Business • Charity