Another year, another chance to make a difference.
Moments of kindness — whether from celebrities or community members using their power to bring attention to education, career encouragement, or youth empowerment — set the internet ablaze with positivity this year.
Now, we’re gathering our favorite feel-good stories that inspired us over the past few months.
Check out some community (and celebrity) stories really making a change in our world and our hearts.
New Jersey Police Officer Buys Shoes For Barefoot Homeless Man
In November, Kenya Joyner of the Delaware River Port Authority was patrolling his New Jersey route when he was asked to remove a barefoot homeless man from a city bus. Instead of giving the man a ticket, he decided to purchase him a brand new pair of boots. Joyner was filmed by a pedestrian during his good deed and the video was uploaded to Facebook. While he didn’t care for the ensuing viral fame, Joyner said his parents’ strong values always reminded him to treat people with honor and respect, no matter their background.
LeBron James Expands Scholarship Program To Help Ohio Parents Earn GEDs
The basketball star has done work off the court with his non-profit The LeBron James Family Foundation for years, but his latest move proves his dedication to education. Over the summer, James announced that his new “I Promise” campaign will send over 1,000 students to the University of Akron for free. The students will begin the program in middle school and abide by the requirements of good grades and a positive attendance record. In addition to providing new laptops, the Cleveland Cavalier will also offer programs to adults seeking an education.
Barber Rewards Children Who Read To Him With Free Haircuts
Haircuts may not seem like a big deal, but one barber decided to use his talents to improve reading among Iowa youth with the promise of a free buzz. In partnership with a local nonprofit, barber Courtney Holmes offered free haircuts to children who read him their favorite books. Why did Holmes lend his razor to the cause? Merely to emphasize the importance of reading.
Tyrese Pays For Student’s Tuition To Morehouse College
James isn’t the only star with a special place in his heart for education. Singer and actor Tyrese Gibson was so inspired by radio legend Tom Joyner’s philanthropy, he stepped up to pay for one fan’s tuition to Morehouse College. Gibson made the announcement on Instagram in early August.
Soledad O’Brien Provides Teens With Mentorship & More With Starfish Foundation
Back in 2010, journalist and philanthropist Soledad O’Brien used her star power to help mentor girls who were left displaced during Hurricane Katrina with The Starfish Foundation. Five years later, O’Brien celebrated the extension of her program – which helps young women obtain an education – with the addition of hundreds of teens from all over the country.
“I was very frustrated,” she told NewsOne. “I saw that there were so many people who were pregnant and there were ways that we could be helpful. Everyone was trying to figure out, ‘How do we make it work?’ I saw the same thing in education and all of these young women who needed opportunities but couldn’t afford them,” she said.
Layzie Bone Of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Saves Man In Diabetic Shock
Layzie Bone of the legendary group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony sprung into action in Wyoming after witnessing a motorist go into diabetic shock. The driver veered off the road and Layzie assisted in feeding him fruit and helping him regain consciousness. The modest rapper said his open spirit and love for helping others in need spurred on his quick thinking.
Chicago Cops Escort Girls With Missing Fathers At Daddy-Daughter Dance
Police officers in Chicago decided to give father-less girls one night to remember at a special daddy-daughter dance. Officers from police districts 5, 7, and 9, as well as the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, offered to stand in for missing fathers so that all of the children could participate in the dance at the South Shore Cultural Center.
One Hundred Black Men Band Together To Greet, Encourage Students On First Day Of School
The first day of school can be tough on any child, but the children of Hartford, Connecticut have seen more crime in their young lives than most. This prompted CEOs, police officers, dentists, judges and more successful Black men to greet the children of Martin Luther King Elementary with high-fives and encouragement on their first day of school.
What’s next for the large group of spirit lifters? They plan to take part in mentor initiatives for students at the elementary school and surrounding areas.
Homeless Single Father Receives $50,000 From Strangers In Random Act Of Kindness
This year, GoFundMe played an incredible role in changing lives for the better. After viewing the story of homeless father James Moss on philanthropist and motivational speaker Leon Logothetis‘ YouTube channel, thousands of people took part in a GoFundMe that helped raised over $50,000 for Moss to obtain a car and get back on his feet. Moss is no longer living on the street and has a job as a barber. He’s also decided to pay it forward by putting together a food giveaway for the homeless.
Man Who Travels 21 Miles To Work Receives New Car, $351,000 From Donors
Moss wasn’t the only person greatly affected by GoFundMe. James Robertson, a Rochester, MI native, made headlines this year for walking a total of 21 miles to and from his $10.55 per hour factory job. Robertson’s car broke down and he simply couldn’t pay for the damages. After discovering that the 56-year-old injection molder was traveling through blizzards and dangerous areas of the city, a college student decided to create a GoFundMe to raise $5,000 for a car to give to Robertson.
People were so touched by Robertson’s strong work ethic, they raised a total of $351,000 for insurance and car repair donations from various companies. Evan Leedy, who created the GoFundMe, even met with Robertson to help him manage the funds.
Jadakiss & Styles P Invest In Juice Bars To Boost Health In Their Hometown
Hip-hop acts Jadakiss & Styles P want children to know snacks can be more than just chips and fried foods. The rappers raised awareness for health and wellness by launching Juices for Life, a chain of juice bars that promote healthy living.
Juices For Life can be found in the Bronx borough of New York City, with two other locations in Queens and in Yonkers. The juice bars also offer drinks intended to help alleviate allergies, arthritis, acne, and bronchitis. The musicians declare there’s simply nothing “soft” about promoting fruits and vegetables in the Black community.
Memphis Cops Buy Kid A New Xbox After Robbery
Tontrevion Campbell from Memphis was more worried about his mother’s financial status than his stolen Xbox after a robbery, so a group of cops went above and beyond to ensure the 11-year-old would have a memorable Christmas.
Officers Jerry Graves, Antonio Martin, Antwan Cooper, and Justin Bourland headed to a local GameStop and purchased Tontrevion a brand new Xbox and three games. After the manager heard about the good deed, he paid it forward by giving the officers an extra controller.
The officers returned to Tontrevion’s home and pretended they found his old Xbox by presenting him with a new one.
Safe to say, Tontrevion had a great early Christmas present.
The Magic Of Black ‘Firsts’ Across America
A small town in Georgia helped set off a series of “firsts” for Black residents. In September, Douglasville named Gary Sparks the city’s first Black police chief. Marcia Hampton also became the first-ever Black (and female) city manager of the town in December. The wins continued with the election of Mayor Rochelle Robinson, also the first woman and African-American to hold the position.
Jasmine Twitty, 25, made history by becoming the youngest judge in the history of Easley, South Carolina. Forth Worth, Texas also saw their first Black police chief, Joel Fitzgerald. The veteran officer was sworn in back in October following a troublesome year of racial incidents within the department.
While local politicians were flourishing, models were doing the same by debuting the first ever natural styles on the runway. Angolan supermodel Maria Borges became the first model to rock natural hair for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
There was 24-year-old Dr. Sanneta Myrie, also known as Miss Jamaica, who became the first Miss World contestant to wear dreadlocks.
Ava DuVernay & Zendaya Get The ‘Barbie’ Treatment
Two of the most inspirational entertainers of the year became the latest stars to get their own Barbie dolls. After defending her faux dreadlock hairstyle at this year’s Oscars, Zendaya’s stunning look was recreated by the company.
Fans are currently fighting to get the doll mass-produced. And fans of Selma director Ava DuVernay put up a vigorous social media campaign to do the same for a commemorative doll of the director after one was made for charity. Following the public release, the doll sold out in minutes.
Some of the lucky consumers showed off their dolls on social media, including Emmy Award-winner Viola Davis.
Yes, #BlackGirlMagic owned 2015.
Leah Still Wins The Jimmy V Perseverance Award At The 2015 ESPYs
Devon Still accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award on behalf of his 4-year-old daughter, Leah. After being diagnosed with cancer last year, Leah’s journey and strength won America’s heart. The Bengals player began his speech by discussing how Leah’s diagnosis turned the family’s world upside down. No matter the troubles and pain chemo and radiation brought his daughter, she stayed strong — #LeahStrong that is — inspiring Devon to live for her.
Leah has continued her fight. As of November, her father confirmed there is no trace of the disease in her body.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter | VIDEO CREDIT: YouTube