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12 touching photos from Santa's visit to a refugee shelter in Germany.

Old St. Nick made a pit stop in Sarstedt, Germany on Christmas Eve.

12 touching photos from Santa's visit to a refugee shelter in Germany.

No matter where he is in the world, Santa Claus appears to be a popular guy.

Case in point: His recent visit to a shelter for migrants and refugees in Sarstedt, Germany, on Christmas Eve. The facility has been a temporary home for those from war-torn Syria and Afghanistan.

Santa's pit stop there shows that, regardless of where they are in the world, children go through the same stages of excitement when Santa comes to town.


1. First, there's the anxious waiting for his arrival.

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

St. Nick really can't come soon enough.

2. And then, of course, more waiting to get a good glimpse.

Patience is a virtue, kids.

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

3. But when he finally arrives? Euphoria.

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

4. Don't forget, though: making kids happy makes Santa happy too.

I mean, just look at the way he's joyously ringing those bells.

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

5. And when Santa's in town, kids understand it probably means he won't come empty-handed.

That's right ... presents!

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

If anyone deserves a few gifts, it's these kids.

Refugee children go through what many of us can't even imagine. Because of conflicts in the Middle East, they've been ripped away from their friends, their communities, and sometimes even their parents. UNICEF estimates that 2.2 million Syrian children have been affected by war in their native country.

Most basic necessities — like clean water, food, quality shelter, and medical care — are difficult to come by for these kids, and many of their families are looking ahead at an uncertain 2016.

6. So yeah ... they deserve some gifts.

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

7. Seriously. These kids deserve everything under the tree.

...and then some.

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

8. So, who's the mystery man behind Santa's mustache?

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

He's a Syrian migrant living in Germany, and he simply wanted to spread some holiday cheer.

Thousands like him in Germany have volunteered in recent months to lend a helping hand to those living in shelters, according to Getty. It's no surprise, either — Germany has been among the most generous to Syrian refugees in the wake of their civil war, Bloomberg reported.

In fact, this year, the European country is expected to take in more refugees from Syria than the U.S. will accept from the entire world (despite Germany being a much smaller country, both geographically and by population).

9. The next best thing Santa gives away besides gifts? Warm hugs, of course.

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

10. And don't forget about group photos (that all the parents can appreciate).

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

11. Judging from all the smiles (on the faces of both kids and their parents), I'd say Santa's stop in Germany was a success.

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

12. Thank you, St. Nick, for remembering to bring some holiday cheer to the families that need it most this season.

Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I'm a bit of a pen snob. Even if I'm just making a list, I look for a pen that grips well, flows well, doesn't put too much or too little ink into the paper, is responsive-but-not-too-responsive to pressure, and doesn't suddenly stop working mid-stroke.

In other words, the average cheap ballpoint pen is out. (See? Snob.)

However, Oscar Ukono is making me reevaluate my pen snobbery. Because while I'm over here turning up my nose at the basic Bic, he's using them to create things like this:

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less