Christmas

One woman’s mission to light up her town for Christmas

This Christmas, one American town is shining a little brighter – thanks to Victoria Coakley and her project to “light up” the west end of Louisville, Kentucky.

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Coakley told local news station WLKY that it is her mission to bring more decorations to West Louisville.

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“Instead of seeing the abandoned houses with cardboard on them and graffiti, I want them to see Christmas lights,” Coakley said.

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Since the beginning of December, Coakley has been collecting decorations and stringing them around the neighborhood with the help of volunteers. Coakley received enough to decorate about 100 homes.

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Coakley’s efforts to light up the this part of Louisville have been well received by the people of the neighborhood, who agree that this gives the town some much needed positivity.

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“It is all about the kids, just trying to give them some kind of inspiration,” Stallard, a local resident, said.

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As captioned in a Facebook post, the west end of Louisville doesn’t have many Christmas lights. Children deserve to see Christmas spirit, regardless of the neighborhood they live in.

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"It changes the atmosphere of everything. There's not really a lot of activity or positive things going on that you can visually see. So the lights are something that you can see," Coakley said.

Humans of New York ensure no one dines alone this Christmas

 

For the fourth year in a row, photojournalist project Humans of New York is doing its part to make sure everybody has a good Christmas, even if they may not have friends or family to celebrate with.

“Every holiday season we try to connect people in New York City who would like to share a holiday meal. Why? Because nothing is worse than being alone on Christmas or Hanukkah,” a post on Humans of New York’s Instagram reads.

The tradition, titled HONY for the Holidays, invites anyone with interest to send an email to HONY as a guest or a host; guests might have circumstances that force them to be alone this holiday season, and hosts might have extra room at the dinner table to feed a couple more mouths.

To facilitate good conversation over a hearty meal, HONY asks that guests and hosts share a little bit about themselves so that they can be aptly paired up. Practical concerns such as location and dietary restrictions are also factored in, and everyone is screened before matches are made.

Founder of Humans of New York Brandon Stanton understands the frustration of being on your own when everybody else in the world seems to be reuniting with loved ones. In an Instagram post two years ago when the initiative was being held for the second time, he recounted spending his first Christmas Eve in New York at a 24-hour diner, with no money to fly home.

Between colorful portraits of everyday New Yorkers and articulating their stories to millions of followers, Humans of New York continues to inspire with this wonderful project that seeks to promote solace and the spirit of giving back in a fast-paced city.

Scrooge the Ticket: Residents in Ontario town to donate instead of paying parking fines

Traffic police in the Ontario town of Innisfil are inviting drivers to “scrooge the ticket” this holiday season by donating to a local food bank instead of paying off their parking tickets.

Last year, the first “Scrooge the Ticket” initiative was a huge success, collecting over USD 1,200 worth of toys, food and gift cards. This year, Innisfil is running it again: up till December 9, those who have been slapped with a parking ticket can opt to bring items of an equal or greater value than their fine to the town hall. Donations go to the Innisfil Community Church’s Christmas Outreach Program.

Innisfil isn’t the first to implement such an initiative. In America, cities in Colorado, Virginia and Kentucky have allowed parking violators to pay their fines with a donation to the food pantry.

The inventive idea makes a not-so-fun activity – paying a parking ticket fine – a gentle reminder that we can all do our part to contribute to the lives of those who are less fortunate. Residents who haven’t received a parking ticket are welcome to donate as well.

“No one likes to get a parking ticket, but this is a thoughtful way to have our residents give generously to a great cause leading into the holiday season,” Mayor Gord Wauchope said.

One 12-year old, 400 teddy bears, and a million hearts to explode from warm and fuzzies.

- Photo Credit: Project 365 Campbell

12-year-old Campbell is no ordinary kid. When he was nine, he asked Mom and Dad if he could buy Christmas presents for all the children in a hospital, and they told him it would cost too much – so he taught himself how to make teddy bears and gave them all away.

“I have set myself to have 365 gifts made by me to take to hospitals, charities and distribution points by next Christmas to give to children at Christmas time. I will make more than this if I can and take them to places for kids birthday presents if they are in hospital for their birthdays,” writes Campbell on his Facebook page.

Since then, the Australian boy has made over 400 teddies for children in need. Besides his goal of making 365 teddy bears a year, Campbell also makes special bears for fundraising auctions and takes custom requests. His bears have helped raise money for victims of domestic violence, comforted sick children on ambulances and inspired hundreds with his kindness.

Campbell’s Facebook page is filled with comments of people thanking him for his generosity and encouraging them to take up craft projects as a way to give back to the community.

In the words of Julia, who left a nice comment on Campbell’s website after his hospitalized son received one of Campbell’s bears, we hope everyone can take a piece of Campbell’s message and pay it forward.