Lord of the Rings: Where Are the Original Cast Members Now?

By | Celebrities, Food for thought, inspiring, lord of the rings

Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power whisks viewers to the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth, long before the Third Age of the beloved movies. However, it also leaves fans nostalgic for Peter Jackson’s film adaptation, and for The Lord of the Rings cast.

RELATED: 3 Lessons from Legendary The Lord of the Rings Author J. R. R. Tolkien

It’s been a lifetime since the 2001 premiere of The Fellowship of the Ring, which set new standards for fantasy films. Two sequels followed, with The Two Towers in 2002, and The Return of the King in 2003, retelling J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved story for the battle for Middle-earth.

As The Rings of Power unfolds, we take a walk down memory lane, with the original cast of Jackson’s Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings, to see what’s happened to them since the end of the New Line Cinema trilogy. And, just is importantly, how the actors became real-life inspirations through their charity work.

What Happened to Elijah Wood After Playing Frodo?

Elijah Wood the actor and as Frodo in LotR

Elijah Wood was only 18 years old when The Lord of the Rings began principal photography. But even today, at age 41, he’s still fondly remembered as Frodo Baggins.

Over the past two decades, Wood has kept busy by exploring a variety of genres, including action-comedy (Spy Kids 3D: Game Over, 2003), romantic drama ( Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004), and psychological thriller (Maniac, 2012).

RELATED: 22 Wise and Memorable Lord of the Rings Quotes

He is now also a producer and a… DJ. In fact, Elijah uses his DJing skills during fundraising events for The Art of Elysium, an organization that provides a platform, and sometimes funding, for volunteer artists who wish to hone their varied crafts.

I am constantly inspired by the work of The Art of Elysium and how they use the transportive power of art to heal and inspire children; elevating them beyond the confines of their pain and discomfort to engage them in creativity and beauty.

Elijah Wood

Elijah also regularly supports charities such as Lifebeat, which is dedicated to advocating for sexual safety, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation

What Happened to Sir Ian McKellen After Playing Gandalf?

Ian McKellen the actor and as Gandalf in LotR

The Lord of the Rings is one of the greatest fantasy stories ever told, but who knows what the films would have looked like without Ian McKellen’s performance as the Wizard Gandalf.

During and after LOTR, the knighted actor played Magneto in the also hugely successful X-Men franchise. He is also one of the few original LOTR cast members to reprise his role in The Hobbit trilogy.  

RELATED: 23 Ian McKellen Quotes on Acting and Being Honest

Some of McKellen’s more recent films are Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Cats (2019). He is also set to appear in the modern-day adaptation Hamlet Revenant,.

When he’s not busy acting, Ian McKellen is extensively involved in charity work. He’s been an advocate for gay rights since he came out in 1988. He co-founded Stonewall, an organization that provides support and resources for the global LGBTQ+ community.

McKellen is also the patron of Step Forward, and has donated to other charities, including those supporting AIDS and HIV education, and at-risk and disadvantaged young people, refugees and seniors.

In 2020, he became one of the leading voices to Project Northmoor, a crowdfunding campaign that seeks to raise funds to buy J.R.R. Tolkien’s home, and turn it into the world’s first Tolkien literary center.

What Happened to Sean Astin After Playing Samwise?

Sean Astin the actor and as Samwise in LotR

Astin portrayed the loyal hobbit Samwise, Frodo’s best friend and his most dependable companion.

Since the end of the trilogy, Astin has voiced several characters in animated films and video games. He even provided the voice for Raphael on Nickelodeon’s popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

RELATED: 20 Game of Thrones Quotes that Will Give You Chills

In 2017, Sean played Bob Newby in Netflix’s hit series, Stranger Things, and we’re sure to hear more about him, as he has several projects in the works.

He’s also well known for his philanthropic work. He is an advocate for mental-health research, and started RUN3rd, a foundation that supports after-school running programs. Astin has also supported organizations like the LEAP Foundation, the Melanoma Research Foundation, the Make A Film Foundation and the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

What Happened to Dominic Monaghan After Playing Merry

Dominic Monaghan played the beloved young hobbit Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck, Frodo’s distant cousin. A magnet for trouble, Merry has also proved to be a fearless fighter.

You might also remember Dominic from ABC’s hit drama Lost, on which he starred from 2004 to 2010. His post-Lord of the Rings activity includes X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. 

RELATED: Jack Gleeson: Why the Game of Thrones Actor Who Played King Joffrey Disappeared

He has served as a contributing writer for Paste magazine, and as the producer of The Millionaire Tour and the 2014 docuseries Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan.

Dominic has supported foundations such as Epilepsy Action and the Neurofibromatosis Association. An avid nature lover, he is a spokesperson for Project Last Stand, a nonprofit that strives to end the destruction of the world’s forests  He has even bought a mango tree forest.

What Happened to Billy Boyd After Playing Pippin

Billy Boyd has played Peregrin Took, better known as Pippin, the second chaotic hobbit who traveled with the Fellowship. Playful and party-loving, Pippin has had everyone laughing out loud with his “What about second breakfast?” scene.

After LOTR, Billy Boyd went on to appear in such films as Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and Seed of Chucky. He has also appeared in TV shows like Outlander and The Witches of Oz. The actor is still active in the Lord of the Rings community, as he often attends comic conventions and other fan events.

Billy doesn’t only enjoy singing and dancing in the trilogy, but in real life as well. So now he is the Patron of the National Boys Choir of Scotland and a supporter for Nordoff Robbins. He has also shown his support for foundations like Cahonas Scotland, which provides help for men living with cancer and other life-limiting diseases, and Children in Need.

What Happened to Viggo Mortensen After Playing Aragorn?

Viggo Mortensen the actor and as Aragorn in LotR

Viggo Mortensen played Aragorn, the son of Arathorn, heir of Isildur, and eventual King of Gondor. 

Viggo isn’t fond of Hollywood blockbusters, opting instead for smaller, more prestigious films. He has been nominated three times as Best Actor, for Eastern Promises (2007), Captain Fantastic (2016) and Green Book (2018). 

In 2020, he made his feature directorial debut with Falling. Viggo is also set to appear in Crimes of the Future and Thirteen Lives.

As for his charity work, Viggo has made short films to support the Spirit Riders Foundation. He has also donated to charities like The Children’s Clinic in Watertown, Save the Chimps, Return to Freedom and Free Arts NYC.

What Happened to Andy Serkis After Playing Gollum?

Andy Serkis the actor and Gollum from LotR

Andy Serkis is the undisputed king of motion-capture technology. His portrayal of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings was not only memorable but ground-breaking.

Afterward, Serkis basically began taking over Hollywood. He joined the MCU as Ulysses Klaue; played Caesar in the Planet of the Apes films; portrayed Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi; and directed Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

RELATED: Why Daniel Day-Lewis Disappeared – And the Bizarre Job That Ended His Acting Career

You can also watch Serkis in the role of Alfred Pennyworth in The Batman. In the near future we’ll see him in the psychological crime thriller series, Luther.

During the coronavirus lockdown, Serkis raised more than $350,000 by performing a live reading of The Hobbit. The money benefited NHS Charities Together and Best Beginnings, for which Serkis is an ambassador.

What Happened to Cate Blanchett After Playing Galadriel

Cate Blanchett played the ethereal beauty Galadriel, a powerful elf who encourages Frodo during the darkest moments of his journey.

The Lord of the Rings opened many doors for Cate as she went straight to Hollywood royalty. She has shown her versatility in movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Cinderella, Carol, Thor: Ragnarok and Ocean’s 8. Cate took home two Oscars, in 2005 and 2014, for her roles in The Aviator and Blue Jasmine.

Cate more recently signed on to the Apple TV+ project Disclaimer. Not only will she star in the psychological thriller, she will also served as executive producer.

Despite her busy schedule, Cate finds time to help others. She was named global Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. Refugee Agency in 2016. The actress visited refugees in Lebanon and helped raise awareness about this issue. She has also helped launch the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Who On Earth Cares campaign.

What Happened to Orlando Bloom After Playing Legolas

Orlando Bloom played Legolas, a prince of the elves’ Woodland Realm, a skilled archer and a reliable member of the Fellowship of the Ring.

He has appeared in some major movies, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Troy, Elizabethtown and The Three Musketeers. The actor is also passionate about theater, and in 2007 made his West End debut in a production of In Celebration. He later starred in a Broadway staging of Romeo and Juliet

Orlando notably returned to his role as Legolas in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit films, despite the character never appearing in Tolkien’s book.

When he’s not on the movie set or on stage, Bloom often devotes his time to charities. He has been involved with UNICEF since 2007, and in 2009 he was made a Goodwill Ambassador. In 2017, the actor traveled to Niger, where hundreds of thousands of children have been affected by Boko Haram’s violence.

Orlando Bloom has supported many other causes, including the Red Cross, EB Medical Research Foundation, Free the Children and Peace First.

What Happened to John Rhys-Davies After Playing Gimli

John Rhys-Davies played Gimli, the brave, ax-wielding dwarf whose unrequited love for Galadriel will forever melt our hearts.

Following The Lord of the Rings, the veteran actor had a multitude of film credits, including Anaconda 3: Offspring, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement and Aquaman. The Welsh actor has also been prolific on the small screen, making his appearance in series such as The Shannara Chronicles and Once Upon a Time. 

With one of the most recognizable voices in show business, John Rhys-Davies created ads for Hospice IOM, an independent charity that offers palliative care to patients living on the Isle of Man. In 2020, together with a large part of the LOTR cast, John joined Josh Gad’s YouTube series Reunited Apart, which promotes donations to non-profit charities.

What Happened to Christopher Lee After Playing Saruman

Sir Christopher Lee played Saruman the White, first of the order of Istari (Wizards). Although he was once a good and wise Wizard, Saruman was corrupted by Sauron’s influence.

Lee had a prolific career that spanned more than seven decades, but he will forever be remembered for playing Count Dracula, Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels, and Saruman in LOTR. His final onscreen appearance was in 2014’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Christopher Lee passed away on June 7, 2015, at age 93.

However, some may not be aware of the incredible life Lee lived outside of acting. During World War II, he was a flight lieutenant of the Royal Air Force and Special Forces. His accomplishments were finally recognized in 2009, when he was knighted for his services to drama and charity.

Lee has contributed to many noble causes. But, most of all, he was a well-known advocate for children’s basic needs. His efforts during UNICEF’s 2007 Child Survival Campaign are well noted.

Children are our future and what a disgrace it is that children are dying from poverty and hunger.


What Happened to Sean Bean After Playing Boromir

Sean Bean played Boromi, a valiant warrior of Gondor who joined the Fellowship in its journey toward Mordor. Sadly, Boromir fell prey to the One Ring’s power, but ultimately died defending Merry and Pippin. 

After LOTR, Bean went on to star in a wide range of movies that include Troy, National Treasure and The Martian. In 2018, Bean won his first BAFTA Award for best actor in a lead role, for his work on the BBC series Broken. However, his highest-profile performance remains the one of Ned Stark in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones

When he’s not busy as a successful actor, Sean Bean is well known for supporting charities. The one that appears closest to his heart is The Sohana Trust for EB, which raises funds for Epidermolysis Bullosa research. However, the star has also donated money for the Dorset Wildlife Trust and for the Royal Osteoporosis Society.

In the past few years, Sean has attended the BGC Charity day, which aims to commemorate those lost on 9/11. All the funds raised at the event were donated to charities around the world.

What Happened to Hugo Weaving After Playing Elrond

Hugo Weaving played Elrond, ruler of Rivendell elves and the father of beautiful Arwen. While he cared a lot about the Fellowship’s goals, his primary concern was for the safety of his people.

We can’t talk about Hugo Weaving without mentioning his iconic role as Agent Smith in the Matrix franchise. However, the actor has been quite busy since The Lord of the Rings has ended. He starred in hits like V for Vendetta, Captain America: The First Avenger, Hacksaw Ridge and Cloud Atlas. The Nigerian-born Brit was also involved in occasional TV projects, such as Patrick Melrose.

The actor appears to be very involved in raising funds to protect our furry co-inhabitants. In 2004, Hugo became an ambassador for the Australian animal-rights organization called Voiceless. He was also a spokesman for the Epilepsy Foundation of Australia, as Weaving himself suffered from epilepsy as a teenager.

What Happened to Liv Tyler After Playing Arwen

Liv Tyler starred in the film trilogy as the elf maiden Arwen, who was prepared to give up her immortality to be with her love, Aragorn. 

Not long before The Lord of the Rings, Liv appeared in Armageddon, one of her most popular movies. After the trilogy, she played in a wide range of films, such as the romantic dramedy Jersey Girl and the horror flick The Strangers.

In 2014, Liv starred in the HBO series The Leftovers, and in 2020 she took on the role of Michelle Blake in 9-1-1: Lone Star.

Inspired by her idol, Audrey Hepburn, Liv became an ambassador for UNICEF. Angelina Jolie’s involvement in helping underprivileged children was also an inspiration. Aside from her contribution at UNICEF, Tyler has supported many other causes and foundations such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Food Bank for New York City, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

What Happened to Ian Holm After Playing Bilbo

Sir Ian Holm played Bilbo Baggins, the eccentric hobbit who adopted Frodo after the death of his parents. Bilbo became the “owner” of the One Ring after winning it from Gollum in a riddle game. He then passed it on to Frodo before leaving the Shire to settle with the elves in Rivendell.

Ian began his career on stage with the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company. He later became a prolific Hollywood actor known for his roles in Chariots of Fire and The Madness of King George. However, his highest-profile role remains that of Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings.

After the trilogy, he went on to play Professor Fitz in The Aviator and voiced Chef Skinner in the 2007 animated movie, Ratatouille. Ian returned to the role of Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and again in 2014’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The latter was his final role.

Ian Holm passed away June 19, 2020, at age 88, but not before making his contribution to charity. Together with some fellow actors from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, he donated items to the Annos Africa Charity Auction to raise funds for disadvantaged children in Nairobi. 

Holm was known for being a generous man, but chose to remain anonymous almost every time.


25 George R.R. Martin Quotes that Show the Truth Behind Fantasy

Teen Born With a Drug Addiction Eats Lunch Alone Everyday – His First Day of School Changes Everything

By | Food for thought, inspiring, stories, uplifting news

One young man’s mother publicly thanked her son’s classmates when he came home from his first day of school with a huge smile on his face and an announcement — a few kids had invited him to eat lunch with them!

Why a Mother of a 16-Year-Old Boy Was Worried

Man sitting alone on wooden panel facing the ocean
Photo by Pixabay

16-year-old Andrew Kirby, who was adopted from the foster care system as a baby, has faced many difficulties in his short life. He was born addicted to drugs because of a mother who used during pregnancy; Andrew also suffers from neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that causes tumors to form in the brain, spinal cord and nerves. This condition has caused Andrew to have many major surgeries. Despite his physical hardships, he has always had a good attitude.

At school, Andrew has always been a loner. He never had much of a social life and always ate lunch alone. His worried mother would text Andrew and ask him if he had found somebody to eat with.

RELATED: Freshman Forced to Eat Lunch Alone – Until Older Students Do Something… Unexpected

He always answered that he was eating alone but encouraged his mother not to worry, telling her, “Mom, it’s ok. I get on my phone, so I don’t notice.” Andrew’s mother, Kay Kirby, was heartbroken imagining her son eating alone, surrounded by groups of his peers laughing and socializing. 

“He’s more of a loner. He’s a good kid, but he’s just different. It doesn’t make him odd or bad. He’s very loyal and everybody that meets him, loves him,” Kay said. 

How High School Students Proved the Importance of Including Others

On the first day of school, Kay picked up Andrew as usual. This year, the pickup was different. Andrew excitedly told his mother that the student council kids had invited him and a few other students, who also eat alone, to sit with them. Since then, Andrew’s social life has picked up. He’s been sitting with the same group every day at lunch, and even attended a movie night with them. The new social connections have drastically lifted his mood, much to his parent’s excitement. 

“We’re just blown away. High school is hard. We’ve all been there. They didn’t care about what their peers thought and they still invited these [kids] to sit with them at lunch. I applaud them for doing that,” Andrew’s dad, Tyler Kirby said.

RELATED: A Lonely Boy’s Friends Ditch His Birthday Party – But a Surprise Rescue Saves the Day

Kay Kirby wrote a public message of gratitude to the kids who went out of their way to encourage Andrew, and the post has been shared more than 14,000 times. It even reached United States Senator Tim Scott, who thanked the kids for their kindness and empathy in a video he published.

We can all relate to feeling lonely and having a hard time making friends at school. We were all like Andrew once, and we should all strive to be generous and kind like the kids who invited Andrew to join them. 


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INCLUDE others

“Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.” – Albert Schweitzer

Woman Talks About Her Job To Stranger On Flight – What He Does Next Shocks Her

By | Food for thought, inspiring, stories, uplifting news

*Featured image contains photo by Natã Romualdo

Teachers do so much for their students: They teach valuable lessons, explain hard concepts, and inspire their students on a daily basis. In underprivileged communities, teachers often help in additional ways, like reaching into their own wallets so their students can have a cafeteria meal or school supplies.

Kimber Bermudez taught at Carlos Fuentes Elementary, a school on the northwest side of Chicago, where most of her students came from predominantly low-income families.

Her job was a big part of her life and something she often discussed with others. That’s how it became the topic of conversation between Bermudez and the passenger beside her on a flight to Florida.

“I have been known as a talker since I was a child,” she told NBC 5.

The Miracle That Took Place On A Southwest Airlines Flight

plane in the sky
Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

On Southwest flight 1050, Bermudez told her neighbor about her work at the charter school in Avondale neighborhood.

“He said, ‘What do you do?’ I said, ‘I am a teacher’ and he asked where,” Bermudez said. “He said, ‘What is your greatest struggle?’ And I started talking about our school and the amazing educators here.”

Bermudez told the man next to her about the struggles the children dealt with, such as not having enough money to buy school supplies. In those situations, the teachers at her school used their own money to help their students pay.

RELATED: Flight Attendant Finds Passenger’s Baby Crying Out Of Hunger- Steps In With An Outstanding Offer

“We talked about the world and how no child should ever do without,” she said. “In 2018, kids should never be hungry or in need of anything.”

It just so happened that Bermudez’s neighbor worked for a company that donated items to schools-in-need. He asked her for her information so that he could organize a donation to her school.

“I was not intending for him to say that, and then gave him my school email,” she said. “Then something amazing happened.”

Why Passengers On A Flight Gave A Teacher $530

The man behind Bermudez tapped her on the shoulder and interrupted her conversation. He apologized for eavesdropping, then handed a wad of cash to Bermudez. While she struggled to understand exactly what was happening, the man said one last thing.

“I heard your story; do something amazing,” the man told her.

Bermudez only found out later that he had given her $500.

RELATED: Passengers Stunned When Stranger Goes Above And Beyond For Terrified Senior On Flight

She promised to use the money to buy her students books, but that wasn’t the only cash coming her way. As the plane landed, the man sitting across from Bermudez gave her $20 and the man in front of her handed her another $10.

“I started crying on the plane,” she said. “I told all four men that I would do something amazing for the kids. I was not telling my story to solicit money, and never intended to walk out of that flight with anything other than my carry on.”

Bermudez knew that $530 could do a lot for the children in her classroom. “With more resources I will get to do more and the kids will get to do more,” she said. “I am just baffled and blown away by all of this.” 

How Strangers Proved The Importance Of Helping A Person In Need

person counting money
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

She posted about the incident on her Facebook account, which garnered hundreds of views, with the hope that others would see the kindness in the world and decide to also give back to those in need.

“I do however hope that posting this continues the chain reaction of people helping those in need, and especially the children in need,” she wrote. “It doesn’t have to be a school in Chicago, and any bit helps!”

RELATED: Woman Unexpectedly Goes Into Labor Mid Air – Strangers Help Deliver Baby

Though she doesn’t know the names of any of the passengers who gave her money, she hoped that the Facebook post would help her find these strangers so she could properly thank them.

“My heart is in complete shock and awe right now,” she wrote. “When the world seems crazy there are always good people. I would do anything for my students, and want to thank these strangers. I don’t know the name of the man who gave me the $500 or the other generous strangers, but they deserve to be recognized.”

Bermudez explained to others how she helps children around her, which then inspired them to help, too. One act of kindness led to more, creating a chain reaction of compassion. So perform an act of kindness whenever you can because it will impact the world tenfold.


Stressed Mom Travels With 2 Screaming Kids On Long Flight – Fellow Passenger Has Unexpected Response

help people in need

“People appreciate and never forget that helping hand especially when times are tough.” – Catherine Pulsifer

Dad Hears 14-Year-Old Scream As She Hangs From Six Flags Ride – Jumps Into Action To Save Her Life

By | Food for thought, inspiring, stories, uplifting news

Just when it seemed that nothing could spoil a day of family fun at a Six Flags amusement park, disaster ruined the ride.

A day of games and cotton candy was winding down when 47-year-old Matthew Howard Sr. and his family were startled by the sounds of frantic screams.

How A Brave Father Acted Swiftly To Save A Falling Girl

amusement park
Photo by Thomas Stadler on Unsplash

Per CBS News, when he looked up, Howard saw a 14-year-old girl dangling about 25 feet off the ground from a gondola ride. Her little brother was in the pod next to her, crying that he couldn’t hold onto her much longer.

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Driven by paternal motivation, Howard and his 21-year-old daughter, Leeann Winchell raced to position themselves under the girl with seconds to spare.

I said, ‘It’s OK! It’s OK to let go, I’ll catch you, honey.

Matthew Howard Sr.

In a leap of faith, the girl let go and landed in Howard’s arms who took the brunt of her fall. She was immediately placed into a golf cart, and sent to the care of emergency workers on site.

The Amazing Aftermath Following A Father’s Rescue

The girl’s recovery was a success, as she had no serious injuries. Howard, on the other hand, was treated for a minor back injury after the rescue.

Howard and his daughter later visited the girl in the hospital and said that she was in good spirits. 

RELATED: Frantic Mom Forgets Son’s Medicine on Vacation – But a Surprising Hero Saves the Day

The video of the rescue went viral, with over 13 million views, 140,000 likes, and over 5,000 comments. Many applauded Howard’s sacrifice.

“This guy is amazing. He’ll probably be dealing with back issues for the rest of his life, and I’m sure he knew that as he was encouraging her to jump into his arms,” wrote one.

It takes a BIG man with a BIG heart to pull something like that #Respect.


How One Father Proved That Importance Of Displaying Courage

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In a prepared statement, a Six Flags official said, “There does not appear to be any malfunction of the ride, but we have closed the attraction until a thorough review can be completed.”

Looking back on that manic moment, Howard says that his motivation was simple.

RELATED: 6-Year-Old Hears Dad Yelling for Help – Saves His Life With a Simple Google Search

“I couldn’t let that little girl die. No one wants to put himself underneath a body like that, but I couldn’t stand by and watch,” he said.

On that day, Howard found out that even if his own family is safe and sound, danger can be just around the bend. Thankfully, his daddy instincts rose to the occasion in a heroic fashion.

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lead with courage

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Man Who Lost His Parents Makes Heartbreaking Request On Tv – What A Stranger Did Next Changed His Life

By | Food for thought, inspiring, stories, uplifting news

Being orphaned at a young age is an extremely difficult reality to deal with. Our parents are the ones we turn to for safety, security, and love. Without them, childhood is a rougher experience than most of us can imagine.

However, the experience can connect people, even over thousands of miles. When one Seattle man saw the story of a fellow orphan on TV, he decided to take matters into his own hands and changed three lives forever. 

The Heartbreaking Request One Man Made On A Talent Show

people cheering for a group performing on stage
Photo by Tony Pham on Unsplash

Greg Rosas, a Seattle man originally from the Philippines, was watching the Filipino talent show Wowowee when he saw a familiar story that broke his heart. One of the contestants, a young man called Barry Bogert Jr., was telling the audience how his mother had passed away when he was only five years old.

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Before that, he explained, his American Navy father had left the country without ever meeting his son. Barry had a message for his father, letting him know that he still wanted to meet him despite being left as an orphan for the past two decades. 

I don’t know if you don’t care about us but I want you to know that I want to see you.

Barry Bogert Jr.

Why One Seattle Man Wanted To Change A Stranger’s Life

Greg Rosas, who had been orphaned himself as a young child, was touched by the fellow orphan’s sad story. He decided to do what he could to find the young man’s father. After searching high and low, Rosas actually found the man. His name was Barry Bogert Sr. and he was living with his family in New Jersey.

After verifying a few details and submitting a paternity test, the result was clear — Barry Bogert Sr. was in fact the long-lost father of Barry Bogert Jr.! Greg Rosas contacted the young Filipino and flew him out to Seattle, then accompanied him to New Jersey to meet his father. 

The picture [Greg Rosas] sent me looks exactly like me.

Barry Bogert Sr.

How A Father And Son Reunited After 28 Years

2 men hugging in a crowded room
Photo by Thiago Barletta on Unsplash

Once they landed in New Jersey, Bogert Jr. and Bogert Sr. finally met after a decades-long separation. Upon seeing one another, the two men broke down in tears. Bogert Jr. also met his father’s other family, who were emotional and excited to be getting a new family member.

RELATED: Relentless Dad Finally Reunites With Kidnapped Son After 24 Years Of Searching

The whole meeting was captured on video, and Greg Rosas felt overwhelmed with emotion about what he was to do for a fellow orphan. He went one step further and offered to sponsor Bogert Jr., offering him a job at the restaurant he owned. Bogert Jr. accepted with enthusiasm, and plans to bring over his fiancée and children as soon as he is able to. 

Greg Rosas is a good samaritan who was able to reunite a broken family over 28 years and 6,000 miles. He went above and beyond, but we can all take a page from Rosas’ book. If we all empathized with the stories of those around us and did whatever is in our power to help, the world would be a better place.

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lead with empathy

“Anyone who has experienced a certain amount of loss in their life has empathy for those who have experienced loss.” – Anderson Cooper

Little Boy Denied Food On His Birthday Because Of $9 Lunch Debt – His Grandmother Has The Best Response

By | Food for thought, inspiring, stories, uplifting news

Sometimes policies can seem a little nonsensical, especially when it comes to children and basic kindness. Take this story about a nine-year-old in Uniontown, Ohio, for example, whose school lunch was snatched away from him because of a $9 balance on his account.

Why A 9-year-old’s Lunch Was Taken Away From Him

school cafeteria
Photo by Anton Murygin on Unsplash

Jefferson Sharpnack came home to his family in September 2019 upset that his ninth birthday didn’t exactly go as planned after a terrible lunch experience.

“I got my cheesy breadsticks and put in my number,” Jefferson explained to an ABC news affiliate. “And when I was going to check out, the lunch lady didn’t say anything, took away my cheesy breadsticks and sauce, put them over there, and took out bread on cheese from the fridge and put it on my tray.”

RELATED: Budget-Conscious Mom Gets Brutally Lunch-Shamed, Moms Step In To Defend Her

Why? As it turned out there was a $9 debt on the kid’s account. And while some employees would have looked the other way, added to the debt, or even counted the items as spillage at the end of the day so this kid could enjoy his lunch, the staff stuck to the policies in place.

According to CNN, Green Local Schools confirmed the incident took place and that Jefferson was given the alternative lunch provided to kids in such situations. That lunch is a cheese sandwich, a side item, and milk.

What wasn’t explained was the lack of communication: Jefferson and his siblings were under the temporary custody of their grandmother, Diane Bailey, who put them in the free and reduced lunch program. At the time, she was told she could just write a check for any balance until the new paperwork went through.

You’re going to throw it away and not feed the child? That doesn’t make sense to me.

Diane Bailey

“In my mind, he didn’t owe anything. I owed the money, the parents, the school district,” Bailey told the ABC outlet. “And my other question is, if they take the food off of your tray, they have to throw it away. You would take the food off a tray and you can’t reserve it?” she continued.

“He was bullied, he was bullied by the school officials. He had his lunch removed from his tray at the age of nine,” she also added to a local Fox affiliate.

How One Incident At A School Inspired District-Wide Changes

students doing homework at school
Photo by Santi Vedrí on Unsplash

Bailey was understandably upset, so she made several complaints and took to social media, where people shared the story. Finally, Green Local Schools took notice. The feedback was enough for Superintendent Jeff Miller to change the policy and ensure all students get their standard lunch from now on.

“We are committed to providing our students with a positive, safe learning environment and experience in every aspect of the school day. All students enrolled in Pre-K through twelfth grades will receive the standard lunch for the day at their respective buildings regardless of their account balance,” he said in a statement.

“[We] will continue to work with families to ensure they have access to all available resources to assist with purchasing school meals,” Miller said.

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“We are sensitive to the financial hardship families incur and challenges presented due to the cost of school breakfast and lunches. Our staff, in coordination with Family Support Specialists, will continue to work with families to ensure they have access to all available resources to assist with purchasing school meals.”

The solution seemed more than reasonable to Bailey, who revealed to the Fox affiliate she appreciated the district’s prompt and “perfect solution.”

As for her grandson’s birthday? That was salvaged by a dinner at his favorite restaurant and cupcakes.

How One Grandmother Proved The Importance Of Speaking Up

"be the change" written on a structure on the road
Photo by Maria Thalassinou on Unsplash

Sure, some feel as though the school officials in this situation could have handled things differently. But at the end of the day, the situation brought light to a difficult policy and inspired lasting change.

However, food insecurity is an ongoing issue that affects all communities and possibly even those you know. With inflation and people still trying to catch up post-pandemic, it can be difficult for families to access nutritious and filling food on a regular basis.

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That’s why it’s so important to give back when you can. Whether you organize a food drive, donate money to your local food bank, or raise awareness through a GoFundMe on your birthday, it’s more necessary now than ever to help make sure everyone has enough.

Jefferson’s story may not be unique, but here’s hoping it inspires more of us to give back and raise awareness so kids and their families can have full tummies, too.

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“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

What Is Juneteenth and Why Is It so Important?

By | Food for thought, inspiring, purpose, self

Over the past few years, the holiday of Juneteenth has gained increasing prominence. While most people know that it commemorates the end of slavery and the freedom on formerly enslaved people, many are unfamiliar about the origins of the celebration. Not only is Juneteenth a way to honor Black American history but it also sheds light how the on past atrocities of slavery impacted the development of our country. And how this legacy continues to impact the modern life of Black Americans.

In this comprehensive guide to Juneteenth, learn more about this yearly holiday, why it’s important, and ways to celebrate.

What Is Juneteenth?

People attend Juneteenth, Black Independence Day

Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans. While the holiday has become much more widely known over the past decade, it has been celebrated in various forms since it was first observed in 1865.

Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19. The name Juneteenth comes from a combination of the words June and 19. The holiday is also known as Emancipation Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day, Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, and Black Independence Day. 

This date is special because while the Civil War had already ended, it was the date that over 250,000 enslaved people were freed from slavery in Texas.

Origins of the Juneteenth Holiday, Explained

The first Juneteenth celebration happened on June 19, 1865, the same day that the Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to share the news that the Civil War was over, freeing the last enslaved Black Americans who lived there. Technically, they had already been freed on February 1, 1865, when President Abraham Lincoln approved the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. 

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Additionally, in 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which had also given the estimated 3 million people enslaved in the Confederate states their freedom. However, the Black Americans living in Texas had no idea that slavery had been abolished and the people enslaving them had no interest in telling them or ending the brutal practice.

Once the Union troops arrived to share the news of the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery (and enforce the order), the formerly enslaved people celebrated with food, song, dance, and other festivities. This celebration became an annual tradition among newly freed Black people that grew into the Juneteenth holiday we know today.

When did Juneteenth Become a Holiday?

Ninety-four-year-old activist and retired educator Opal Lee, known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden after he signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law in the East Room of the White Hous

Jubilee Day was first celebrated in 1865 after the news was delivered that salavery was no longer legal. The first official observances were held the next year in Texas and continued as an annual tradition. Soon the Juneteenth anniversary was being honored annually in other states as well. 

Is Juneteenth a Federal Holiday?

Yes, Juneteenth is a federal holiday, but becoming an official American holiday took years in the making. In 1980, Juneteenth was made a state holiday in Texas. In the years that followed, other states began to officially recognize the holiday as well. Increasingly, more and more people became aware of the celebration and the effort to make Juneteenth a federal holiday intensified. 

Finally, in the wake of the horrific killing of George Floyd at the hand of police officers, the massive protests that followed, and the ensuing attention his murder brought to issues of structural racism, by the order of President Joe Biden, Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021. Juneteenth became the 11th federal holiday, coming 38 years after the 10th—Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Day, which became an official holiday in 1983.

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Additionally, Juneteeth became a national holiday in large part due to the efforts of former teacher and racial justice advocate Opal Lee, who has been called the “grandmother of the movement” to get Juneteenth recognized on a national scale. The tenacious Texan campaigned to make Juneteenth a federal holiday for decades and her dream was finally realized June 19, 2021, when she was 94 years-old.

Where Is Juneteenth Celebrated?

Children at Juneteenth Celebration Marks Emancipation From Slavery

Juneteenth festivities occur in cities across America. A particularly big celebration happens each year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has held Emancipation Day events since 1971. 

Other cities that hold impressive Juneteenth observances include Houston, Texas, where festivities have been held at Emancipation Park since 1872, drawing thousands of participants. Family friendly activities, concerts, and food keep attendees coming back each year to celebrate the abolition of slavery and Black American culture.

Philadelphia puts on an enormous parade to celebrate Emancipation Day that includes thousands of participants. Additionally, the festivities have included a Freedom Day March, art exhibits, and other events celebrating Black Americans and their history.

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In New Orleans, cultural events like film festivals and concerts dominate their Juneteenth celebrations. In Charleston, North Carolina, where many enslaved people first arrived in America, the Juneteenth Family Fest is held. Fireworks, drum lines, and a variety of musical performances are highlights of the yearly event.

Washington, DC, which made Juneteenth a city holiday beginning in 2004, also holds extensive celebrations. Events include dance, theater, and musical performances by Black artists and activities that celebrate and educate about Black American history.

Atlanta Georgia holds the Juneteenth Atlanta Parade and Music Festival annually to mark this holiday. Each year the festival has a new theme, fireworks displays, fun runs, genealogy sessions, and other activities. Multiple other cities also put on an annual Juneteenth music festival and parades, such as Denver, Colorado, and Memphis, Tennessee.

Primarily, Juneteenth is celebrated in the United States. However, other people and organizations throughout the world also observe the holiday to mark the end of slavery in America and honor the achievements and culture of Black Americans.

How Is Juneteeth Celebrated?

Young cheerleaders march during Juneteenth Parade

Early festivities include a range of events including prayer meetings, religious services, speeches, picnics, parties, dancing, and music. Today, similar activities continue to be popular ways to celebrate Juneteenth. Family gatherings are also commonly held to mark the occasion. Educational programming, sharing uplifting and positive quotes, and advocacy are also commonly a part of Emancipation Day activities.

Now that Juneteenth is a federal holiday, many people have the day off, which allows more people the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the anniversary and to attend and participate in Juneteenth events. 

What States in America Do Not Recognize Juneteenth?

49 of our 50 states recognize Emancipation Day. The outlier is South Dakota. Some efforts have been made to change this but so far they have been unsuccessful in getting a law passed to officially observe the holiday in the state. 

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However, while the holiday is now widely celebrated across the country, in some states, including Texas, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, it is illegal to teach about structural racism and critical-race theory in schools. This prohibition makes it challenging to teach about Juneteenth as much of the holiday’s lineage is directly tied to America’s history of slavery and the oppression of Black Americans.

Is Juneteenth a Paid Holiday?

Federal employees get Emancipation Day as a paid holiday. Businesses don’t have to give Juneteenth as a paid holiday or to pay overtime (time and a half) for those that have to work on that day. However, many employers do offer these benefits, particularly big companies, such as Nike and Target. 

Additionally some states (such as Texas, New York, Washington, and Illinois) and cities (such as Los Angeles) have made Juneteenth a paid holiday for their workers.

Why Is Juneteenth So Important?

Protester chant near the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. statue during a Juneteenth celebration

Juneteenth a important because it honors and draws attention to the truth about America’s history of racism and the legacy of slavery. At the same time, the holiday also celebrates the lives, achievements, and contributions of Black American and Black culture.

The holiday provides a yearly time to reflect on such figures as James Baldwin, Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Maya Angelou, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Sojourner Truth. It gives a chance to look at the challenges Black Americans have faced (and continue to face) as well as a moment to celebrate progress and positive thinking and strategies for the future.

Sometimes called “America’s second Independence Day,” Juneteenth provides a time to celebrate the end of slavery in America. The holiday looks to the future while also reflecting on the past, so that we never forget the struggles and injustice inflicted on enslaved peoples and the legacy of that pain and oppression that linger to this day on future generations and America’s culture at-large. Emancipation Day is also a moment to honor all the beauty, courage, and contributions of Black Americans.

tIn 1924, Their Land Was Taken Cause They Were Black – Today, Justice Was Served

George Clooney Handed 14 Friends a Mystery Suitcase Each – What They Found Inside Shocked Them

By | Food for thought, George Clooney, inspiring, stories, uplifting news

*Featured image contains photo by Sun Lingyan on Unsplash

Good friends are priceless, but if George Clooney had to put a price on them, he’d say well worth one million dollars. He knew he wanted to reward his friends for their kindness and support.

Clooney once gave fourteen of his closest friends a million bucks in cash to thank them for always having his back. Among these recipients was Rande Gerber, Clooney’s Casamigos business partner, who told MSNBC about the gift back in 2017. Later to GQ, Clooney confirmed it himself.

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Clooney knew great friends were hard to come by, and he was incredible grateful for the ones in his own life.

“Amal and I had just met, but we weren’t dating at all,” the actor said. “I was a single guy. All of us were aging. I was 52 or something. And most of my friends are older than me.”

Why George Clooney Wanted to Give His Friends $14 Million

$100 bills
Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

For the past 35 years, his friends were always there for him. He even believed they helped him achieve his success.

They helped me when I needed help over the years and I’ve helped them over the years. We’re all good friends.

George Clooney

Clooney thought the world of his friends and knew that’s exactly what they deserved: The world.

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“I thought, you know, without them I don’t have any of this. And we’re all really close, and I just thought basically if I get hit by a bus, they’re all in the will. So why the f*** am I waiting to get hit by a bus?” he said.

Then, when his film Gravity with Sandra Bullock became a hit, he had earned millions of dollars just for that one movie. Though Clooney couldn’t actually give his friends the world, he could give them something else instead.

George Clooney’s Ocean’s Eleven Inspired Plan to Surprise His Friends

So, he devised a fun way to present his gifts to his friends.

Inspired by Ocean’s Eleven, Clooney came up with a plan for how he can gift each of his friends one million dollars. In a van with “Florist” painted on the side, Clooney stopped by a warehouse in Los Angeles that was known to have giant pallets of money. That’s where he picked up $14 million in cash.

Next, Clooney stuffed fourteen Tumi suitcases with a million dollars each and invited his friends over for dinner. When they were all gathered together, Clooney began to get serious.

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“I just held up a map and I just pointed to all the places I got to go in the world and all the things I’ve gotten to see because of them,” he said.

Gerber remembers Clooney’s speech fondly. “George begins to say, ‘Listen, I want you guys to know how much you’ve meant to me and how much you mean to me in my life,” Gerber said. “‘I came to LA, I slept on your couch. I’m so fortunate in my life to have all of you and I couldn’t be where I am today without all of you. So, it was really important to me that while we’re still all here together that I give back. So I want you all to open your suitcases.’”

How George Clooney Proved the Importance of Appreciating Good Friends

two men wearing black suits and caps clinking drinks together
LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 27: Rande Gerber (L) and George Clooney attend Casamigos Halloween party at CATCH Las Vegas at ARIA Resort & Casino on October 27, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Casamigos)

Clooney’s friends, who he refers to as “the Guys,” all opened the suitcases and were shocked by what they saw.

“One was working at a bar in Texas at the airport, trying just to support his family,” Gerber said. “Rides a bicycle to work every day. I mean, these are guys that took care of George and now he’s giving it all back.”

Apparently, not everyone originally wanted to keep the money.

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Gerber tried to return the money; he was a successful businessman and didn’t think he needed it. However, Clooney would not take it back.

“I’m just going to make one announcement,” Clooney said when Gerber refused the cash. “If Rande doesn’t take the million dollars, nobody gets their money.” So Gerber took his cut and donated it to charity.

Not everyone has millions of dollars to hand out to friends, but we do all have something. Whether it’s our time, our patience, a listening ear, or — in Clooney’s case — fourteen suitcases brimming with money, we can all give back to those who have supported us.

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Stranger Notices 2 Hungry Children at Restaurant – Steps in After Overhearing Their Food Order

By | Food for thought, inspiring, stories, uplifting news

Fending for yourself as a child can be daunting. We are often shy to ask strangers for help when in need — and for good reason! Adults who seem to act like they are helping can sometimes be dangerous, and it is hard for a child to differentiate between a friend and a foe.

However, two young children recently got some help from an anonymous stranger who definitely turned out to be a friend! 

Why 2 Hungry Children Had to Limit the Amount of Food They Ordered

brother and sister sitting at the edge of a cliff
Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

When their mother called home to tell them she had been in a minor accident and was not going to make it home in time to put dinner on the table, two young children were forced to go find food at a local restaurant. The brother and sister duo headed out with what little money they had to make sure their bellies were full for the night.

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Once they had arrived at the restaurant, the two children had to keep their family’s financial situation top of mind as they ordered only two plates of duck rice, one big and one small, and told the waiter in advance that they would wrap up any leftovers that were not eaten. To their surprise, the two got more than they had bargained for.

How an Eavesdropping Stranger Stepped in to Help the Children

A man was eating alone near the two children and overheard the care with which they ordered. He quickly realized that their financial situation must be stressful and decided to not only pay for the dinner they had ordered, but add a few extra dishes to the total so that they had enough to bring home and eat for a few days.

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The waiter, who was also worried about the children, loved the man’s plan. He added vegetables and soup to the order, hoping that these would help the children get a bit more nutrition over the coming days. 

[I wanted the children to] eat more nutritious food and have their fill.

Restaurant waiter

When the children found out that someone had paid their bill, they were excited and told their mother about what had happened. She was very grateful, and rushed to the restaurant to try and catch the stranger before he left, but she was too late. Nevertheless, she wanted to express her gratitude, so she wrote about the whole story on Facebook and included a thank you message to the man.

“Thank you! I hope you can see this. Thank you for the care,” their grateful mother wrote.

The Reason One Stranger Wanted to Help the 2 Hungry Children

person preparing food
Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography on Unsplash

The Facebook post went viral, getting thousands of likes and shares and inspiring the community. Not only that, thanks to social media, the mystery man was identified as 29-year-old celebrity chef Luo Shirong. He related to the children because he had been poor in his youth and knew how much poverty can lead to struggle.

I was poor when I was young. When I saw the young brother and sister eating without their parents, I remembered when I was little. I dared not to eat because I had no money!

Luo Shirong

Seeing them eat without worrying about money was very satisfying and heartwarming, and he was glad that he was able to help a family that reminded him so much of his own. Luo Shirong’s actions are a good reminder to us all that whenever we can, lending a helping hand can make a big difference to a small few, but can inspire many more!

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“Making one person smile can change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world.” – John Spence

School Janitor Reveals a Tragic Secret – So Her Boss Plans a Surprise That Brings Her to Tears

By | Food for thought, inspiring, stories, uplifting news

Frances Buzzard had never had a birthday party. That was, until this year. Buzzard, lovingly known as Ms. Frances, was a janitor at Belle Elementary School in West Virginia.

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She had only been working there for a year, but all the students and staff already adored and respected her. She always came to work with a smile on her face and a good attitude, making her a pleasure to be around.

She was about to turn 77-years-old but never in her life had she had her own birthday celebration. Once, her family tried to plan her a party, but “it was so icy and cold, nobody came.”

Why Elementary School Staff Wanted to Throw Their Janitor a Party

empty school hallway
Photo by kyo azuma on Unsplash

When the staff at the elementary school learned of this from the head cook, they decided to throw her a birthday party themselves. 

“The opportunity couldn’t pass us by,” Amanda Mays, the principal of Belle Elementary School, said.

A little after lunchtime, Frances and her co-worker Rendell Heater heard an announcement over the loudspeaker informing them that they were needed in the cafeteria. Frances expected to encounter a mess to clean, but instead she found a room of staff and students applauding her.

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All in all, there were more than 200 people in the cafeteria waiting to shout “surprise” at their beloved custodian.

Frances was absolutely shocked. She could not stop smiling, even as emotional tears stung her eyes. She admitted that she comes from an impoverished family because of which she couldn’t celebrate birthdays or holidays.

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Principal Mays led Frances to her throne — a cushioned chair in the center of the room — and gave her a crown and a sash. A table of cupcakes were to the side of the cafeteria, two with burning candles on them for Frances to blow out and make a wish.

They even made a video for Frances where they photoshopped photos of her into major historical events, including the moon landing and Woodstock.

“Through the lens of history, Ms. Frances Buzzard, this is your life,” the video announced.

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The children all serenaded Frances with the happy birthday song as she stood at the front of the room.

Never had nothing like this. Oh, it’s a great big party, I appreciate it. I’ve never had nobody do this for me.

Frances Buzzard

When the staff and students of the elementary school learned of the parties their admired custodian missed out on for the last 77 years, they did something about it. Their love and kindness transformed Frances’s birthday and created a memory she will never forget and made the event the best she has ever had.

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“Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes