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When you were a child, this may have been the most frightening situation you could imagine:

Pure terror. Photo via iStock.


But now that you're an adult, I'd guess that this situation is far more anxiety-inducing:

Photo via iStock.

Like the dreaded dentist's appointment, an unexpected trip to the auto mechanic rarely signals fun times ahead. Instead, car troubles fill our hearts with fear and, even worse, our wallets with emptiness. Three hundred dollars for a radiator hose?! Sure, I guess that sounds right... (*cries into checkbook*).

In early March, Keith Burkitt of Houston, Texas, was just like the rest of us: a driver putting off a trip to the auto repair shop.

As Burkitt told ABC affiliate KTRK, his car's alignment was shot, but he knew that fixing it would cost a lot more than he could afford at the time. While speaking with a customer at the restaurant where he worked, Burkitt joked, "I had to turn my wheel all the way to the right just to make the car go straight."

But what happened next was something right out of "Pay It Forward." Despite the fact that he didn't even know the server's last name, the customer in question told Burkitt he had "a friend across the street who could fix it."

Even more incredible?

The customer offered to pay Burkitt's bill, no matter what it cost.

So the next morning, an astonished Burkitt took his car to the mechanic at the Exxon station the customer had mentioned. He replaced all four shocks and struts on Burkitt's car, cleaned his fuel lines, and replaced his timing and serpentine belts. The total cost was a whopping $1,975.

True to his word, the near-stranger had already covered the bill in full. When Burkitt attempted to partially reimburse him, the stranger reminded him of the power of generosity:

"He just said, 'I'm not taking no for an answer, just pay it forward someday,'" Burkitt told ABC News.

We've seen many instances of people "paying it forward" before.

Don't forget about the church that (literally) paid it forward by giving a pizza delivery guy a $700 tip, and the police officer who gave out presents instead of tickets one afternoon in December.

Whether it's something as simple as holding a door for a stranger or donating blood or volunteering some of your time on the occasional weekend, stories like these can inspire each of us to better the world around us in small ways, because paying it forward can be about so much more than money.

This kind of story also makes me believe that every single human possesses true kindness. Maybe being the change you want to see in the world is not just some lofty ideal that we should all aspire to — maybe it's actually just a matter of pure will.

So the next time your faith in humanity is rocked (which, given our current political climate, has probably already happened twice today alone), ask yourself what you can do to restore it.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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