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It wasn't all bad
April 16, 2019

While working 135 miles off the coast of Thailand, workers on an oil rig spotted something unexpected in the calm water below: a brown dog.

They had no idea how long she had been paddling in the water, or how she even got so far away from land, but they did know that they wanted to save the pup. Someone grabbed a rope and lowered it down to the exhausted dog, who was easily pulled up.

The workers gave the dog fresh water and food, a bath, and a name: "Boonrod," Thai for "survivor." Boonrod spent two nights on the rig before being transferred on Sunday to an oil vessel that deposited her back on land Monday. Boonrod has since received a clean bill of health from a vet, and one of the oil rig workers hopes to be able to adopt her. Catherine Garcia

April 15, 2019

Due to a lack of traffic lights, signs, and sidewalks in neighborhoods across Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the streets can be dangerous for anyone on foot.

Children are especially vulnerable; the World Health Organization reports that kids in sub-Saharan Africa are more than twice as likely to die in a road accident than anywhere else. The nonprofit SARSAI aims to change this by finding schools with the highest rates of death and injuries, and then improving road conditions in the area. This includes installing speed bumps, crosswalks, and traffic signs, with educators also going into the schools to teach kids about street safety. In Dar es Salaam, 38,000 students so far have benefited from SARSAI's work.

SARSAI, which stands for School Area Road Safety Assessments and Improvements, is already seeing results; at schools where eight to 12 kids were killed or injured in previous years, SARSAI interventions have reduced injuries by 26 percent. "What SARSAI does is to look at our cities from the angle of the child pedestrian," program director Ayikai Charlotte Poswayo said. "If we can design our cities from that angle, we would be designing it for the safety and security of all."

Last week, SARSAI received the inaugural World Resources Institute Ross Prize for Cities. SARSAI is already working in nine African cities, and with this $250,000 prize, the organization will be able to bring its safety program to even more places. Catherine Garcia

April 15, 2019

It all started 14 years ago, when Chef Bruno Serato and his mother, Caterina, met a first grader whose dinner consisted of just potato chips.

Serato owns the Anaheim White House restaurant in Anaheim, California, and Caterina told him to make a plate of his homemade pasta for the child. Wanting to help other underserved kids facing food insecurity, Serato founded a nonprofit, Caterina's Club, with the goal of feeding as many hungry kids as possible. Today, there are 80 Caterina's Club locations in Orange and Los Angeles counties, serving more than 25,025 pasta dinners every week. "When I see all the kids laughing and eating pasta, it makes my heart full," Serato said.

On Thursday, Serato served his nonprofit's three millionth meal, with a special guest on hand: Billy Saldana, one of the first kids to dine through Caterina's Club. Saldana helped dish out food to the kids, and remembered what it was like when he first met Serato. "I didn't even know what pasta was," he said. Caterina's Club also helps families living in motels find permanent housing, and teaches at-risk teens skills for jobs in the hospitality industry. "I am so grateful for all the volunteers who come out and help every day," Serato said. "Without them, none of this would be possible." Catherine Garcia

April 12, 2019

When the owner of a 7-Eleven in Toledo, Ohio, learned that a young shoplifter was stealing in order to feed his family, he did something unexpected.

Jay Singh noticed the teenager was acting suspiciously, and told an employee to call the police. Singh confronted the teen, and asked him why he was stealing. "He said, 'I'm hungry. I'm stealing it for myself and my younger brother,'" Singh told CBS News. "I said, 'You need food? I'll give you food. That's not a problem.'"

Singh filled up a bag for the teenager, and told officers when they arrived that everything was fine. "He's a young kid," Singh said. "That will go on his record that he was a thief. He cannot do anything in his life. He will not get a good job. This will not solve his hunger problem." Singh said in Indian culture, it's important to feed a person when they are hungry, and he felt it was his duty to help. Catherine Garcia

April 11, 2019

It's National Library Week, and to mark the occasion, libraries across the United States are giving patrons with unpaid late fees a charitable way to get rid of their debts.

The Food for Fines program is simple: Bring a nonperishable canned food item to a participating library, and get credit toward your fine while filling the shelves at a local food pantry. Most libraries waive $1 worth of fees for every canned item, and some are also accepting pet food to donate to animal shelters.

National Library Week runs through April 13, but some libraries are offering the program all month. At the Thomas Beaver Free Library in Danville, Pennsylvania, people who don't even have fines are dropping off canned goods and pet items, director Kathleen McQuiston said. "We wanted to do something to contribute to the community, since the community has been very supportive of us," she told the Danville News. Catherine Garcia

April 10, 2019

Erin Bischoff is happy to share the spotlight with her service dog, Gage.

The 17-year-old from Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, recently tried out for her high school's production of The Wizard of Oz, and was thrilled when she learned she would be playing the lead. "I was not expecting Dorothy," she told CBS News. "I was expecting more of a Glinda, a more secondary character." Gage is starring alongside her as Toto, with a twist; since he's a golden retriever, Gage won't be able to fit in a basket.

Bischoff has a genetic condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, meaning her bones can break easily. She has had 103 bone fractures and 10 surgeries, and uses a wheelchair. Bischoff says a lot of people focus on her chair, and she's hoping that her performance changes that. "My main thing is I really want them just to see me as anyone else who's on the stage," she said. "And that overall, disability should be embraced." Catherine Garcia

April 8, 2019

Growing up, Dr. Ramon Resa didn't see any physicians in his community that looked like him.

Resa, now 65, grew up in California's Central Valley. He was abandoned as a toddler and raised by a family with 14 children. He started picking cotton at 3, and continued to work the fields through high school. It was hard work, and Resa often had to miss school; when he was there, he had to fight to be placed in college prep classes.

He persevered, and when it came time to pick a career path, he thought about how meaningful it would be to serve as a doctor in his community. Resa knew many Latino people who were misdiagnosed or ignored by local doctors, and he wanted to break that cycle. "I thought, well, what am I doing in college? I should go be a doctor," he told ABC Los Angeles on Thursday. "My people need a doctor. That was my inspiration."

Resa graduated from the University of California Irvine Medical School, and just like he planned, he returned to the Central Valley, where he has been a pediatrician for more than three decades. He treats the children of migrant workers, and also travels around the country to share his story with young people. Resa, the subject of a recent documentary film, Ramon Rising, told The Mercury News last year that he aims to be a role model for kids who face the same obstacles that once stood in his way. Catherine Garcia

April 5, 2019

Tyler Jackson recently approached the robotics club at Farmington High School with a life-changing request: Would they be able to build his 2-year-old son a power wheelchair?

Cillian Jackson was born with a rare genetic microdeletion known as NRXN1, and it can be hard for him to move around. He enjoys being with people, and a therapist told the family he would benefit from having an electric wheelchair. She told them about a group that modifies Power Wheels so they can be used by children with disabilities, but there isn't a chapter near their home in Farmington, Minnesota.

That's when Tyler Jackson decided to see if the Rogue Robotics team could help his son. "It seemed like an engineering challenge like we have to do for robotics [competitions] and it seemed like it was for a great cause," tech education teacher and robotics coach Spencer Elvebak told Today. "The kids got a heck of a lot out of it." Starting with a Power Wheels car, the students were able to customize it for Cillian, making a custom joystick using a 3D printer, and installing a smaller seat with a safety harness.

Cillian's parents say his new wheelchair lets him explore the world, and helped him become more independent. "He just loves pausing and looking at things because he has never had this ability before," his mother, Krissy Jackson, told Today. "You just see his eyes light up. He just sees things from a different lens and it is incredible." Catherine Garcia

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