Friendships can form anywhere — including in front of the dairy section at the grocery store.
After his wife died, Dan Peterson, 83, of Augusta, Georgia, couldn't shake his grief. He tended to his garden, where his wife once grew roses, and was "just waiting it out to see how long I was going to live," he told NPR. One day last year, during a quick trip to the grocery store, he met a 4-year-old named Norah Wood, who could sense he was down. "I thought he needed a friend because he was sad," she said. Norah ran up to Peterson and said, "Hi, old person. Today's my birfday.'"
Her excitement was contagious. "When you have a little girl bouncing up and down and being so happy to be alive, you sort of change," Peterson said. Norah, her mom Tara, and Peterson began chatting, and Norah asked to take a photo with Peterson before they went their separate ways. She posted the picture on Facebook, and learned from a mutual friend that it was the first time Peterson smiled since his wife's death. Tara arranged a visit with Peterson, and after a fun afternoon, on their way out the door, Norah stopped to smell one of Peterson's red roses. "It was precious to me, the only thing I had to give back, so I got it and gave it to her," he told NPR. "That sort of sealed our friendship, I think." Catherine Garcia
After several years in foster care, Anthony Berry never thought he'd be adopted at age 16 — and he definitely didn't think his new mom would be his former English teacher.
Anthony met Bennie Berry last November, and she thought he was kidding when he asked her to adopt him in January. "Then later I found out that it was really an option to adopt him, so we pushed forward," she told ABC News. Anthony entered the foster system at age nine, and had decided he didn't want to be adopted, but that changed when he met Bennie. "Life is like a box of chocolates," he joked. "You never know what you might get."
Last week in Beaumont, Texas, the adoption was made official, and both members of the Berry family are excited to see what the future brings. "I have a son," Bennie said. "I'm more than elated. I have a son for the rest of my life." Catherine Garcia
Meet Lawrence of Abdoun, the British Embassy in Amman's new diplocat.
Named after T.E. Lawrence and adopted last month from a Jordan animal shelter, he resides at the embassy in Amman's Abdoun neighborhood. "Apart from his mousing duties, he reaches out to followers on Twitter," Deputy Ambassador Laura Dauban told Reuters. "What's quite interesting is the British public are seeing the U.K. embassy in Jordan in a different light. Through Lawrence's Twitter account, we're trying to show a different side to Jordan, what it is really like, a peaceful, prosperous country that British tourists should come and visit."
He isn't the only cat working for the U.K. government — in fact, he reports directly to Palmerston, the chief mouser at London's Foreign Office. Catherine Garcia
— Lawrence of Abdoun (@LawrenceDipCat) November 9, 2017
Eliahu Pietruszka spent 70 years thinking every member of his immediate family died during the Holocaust. Two weeks ago, he learned that not only did his younger brother survive, but he had one son, and that son wanted nothing more than to meet his uncle in person.
Pietruszka, 102, was 24 when he fled Poland in 1939. His parents and younger brother Zelig were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto and later died in a concentration camp, but Zelig's twin, Volf, was able to escape. Eliahu and Volf briefly communicated before Volf was sent to a Siberian work camp by the Russians, and Eliahu always assumed his brother died there. Believing his entire family had perished, Eliahu moved to Israel in 1949, married, had children, and became a microbiologist.
Two weeks ago, a Canadian woman working on her family tree sent Eliahu's grandson a note, saying she found online a testimony written by a man named Volf Pietruszka. Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial, maintains a database filled with the names of those who perished in the Holocaust, and Volf had filled out a testimony for Eliahu, thinking he had died. Volf had survived the Holocaust, moved to the Ural Mountains, and had one son, Alexandre Pietruszka, now 66.
Eliahu's grandson found an address for Volf, which led to him connecting with Alexandre. Volf died in 2011, and wanting to waste no time, Alexandre packed his bags and flew to Israel to meet his uncle last Thursday. It was an emotional moment for Eliahu, meeting the only link to the family he thought he lost so long ago. "It makes me so happy that at least one remnant remains from my brother, and that is his son," he told The Associated Press. "After so many years, I have been granted the privilege to meet him." Alexandre said it was "a miracle" that he found his uncle. "I never thought this would happen." Catherine Garcia
For two months, surfer Conrad Carr gave up the ocean for land, walking more than 1,000 miles from New York to Florida to help animals affected by hurricanes.
After his friend dared him to walk 1,000 miles, promising to give him $100 for every mile completed, Carr decided to take him up on his offer. Some of his famous friends, including Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, helped spread the word about Carr's journey, and more donations came in for the cause. "The animals don't have a voice, and I saw the Humane Society was right on the front lines," he told USA Today. "You gotta save all those guys struggling out there."
His journey lasted from September to November, and he's happy to have brought awareness to the plight of animals struggling due to hurricanes. "You feel a lot better when you go out there and do something good for someone who can't," he said. Catherine Garcia
When a Massachusetts teenager saw his Alzheimer's-afflicted grandma struggling to complete her beloved word searches, he came up with his own special solution. John Frates, 17, compiled a custom set of puzzles with simplified words, bigger font, and no more diagonal or backward solutions. "Every time I showed her a new word search," Frates says, "her eyes lit up."
Following his grandma's positive response, Frates shared the word searches with other residents of her nursing home. He has now published the first-ever puzzle collection for seniors with dementia, called Grandma and Grandpa's Word Searches. The profits from sales of the book will go towards raising money for Alzheimer's patients and research. Christina Colizza
While deployed in Afghanistan with the Marines, Sgt. Craig Grossi crossed paths with Fred, a "goofy looking" dog who would ultimately change his life.
Grossi met Fred in Helmand Province in 2010, after fighting the Taliban for a week straight. Fred was covered in bugs and his fur was matted, but as Grossi approached him, "he started to wag his tail, and that really just froze me, because that is the last thing I thought he would do," he told People. He knew this dog was special and wanted to rescue him from his harsh environment, so Grossi came up with a plan that involved sneaking him onto a helicopter and then hiding him on base until he could send Fred to the United States. "That was all I wanted, because I wasn't sure if I would make it back or not," Grossi said.
Both of them made it home safely, and while attending Georgetown University, Grossi decided to turn the story of Fred's amazing journey into a book. Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other is out now, and Grossi hopes it inspires people to be "stubbornly positive." They live in Maine, and Fred is enjoying his book tour, Grossi said — especially getting to stay in hotel rooms every night. Catherine Garcia
It doesn't matter if customers at Baltimore's The Book Thing take home one book or 100, as it all costs the same: $0.
Every book inside The Book Thing is free, and there's no limit to how many books people can walk out the door with — some teachers are known to fill up several boxes to use in their classrooms, while casual readers might just grab one or two tomes off the shelves. Russell Wattenberg has been running The Book Thing for 17 years, never charging a dime for anything. "It cuts down on robberies," he joked to CBS News' Steve Hartman. "We encourage shoplifters."
In March 2016, a fire ripped through The Book Thing, with all of its inventory going up in smoke. It didn't take long for the community to rally together, bringing Wattenberg cash donations and holding fundraisers to help rebuild; so many books have been donated that Wattenberg still has 7,000 boxes to go through. The Book Thing reopened in October, and there's never a shortage of customers. "I don't have the patience to teach somebody to read," Wattenberg said. "I don't have the diligence to be a writer. The only way I see to contribute to the written word is by doing this." Catherine Garcia