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Josette Duran didn't expect her story of kindness, compassion, and sandwiches to go viral, but it's not hard to see why it did.

A bagged lunch. Photo by Henry Kellner/Wikimedia Commons.

In early September, Duran's son Dylan asked her if she would start packing him two lunches to take to school. Worried she wasn't feeding him enough, Dylan quickly laid those concerns to rest.


"Mom it's for this boy," Josette wrote on her Facebook page, recalling her conversation with her son. "He only eats a fruit cup for lunch can you make him lunch too? I don't think he has lunch money."

Josette told ABC News that she sent Dylan to school with extra sandwiches, yogurt, and chips for two months. When the boy's mother found out, she asked the school to call Josette so she could thank her in person and offer to reimburse her — but Josette said she declined.

"This hits home to me because a few years ago, me and my son were homeless," Josette said. "I was living in my car, I was washing him in bathrooms, and we didn’t have food."

The story was posted to Reddit, where it received hundreds of comments. One user recalled how their parents helped feed their friends when they were in grade school.

"My mom gave me $3 for lunch every day, which was $3 more than my best friend's mom gave him. That was enough to buy a Pizza Hut personal pizza, so we shared one of those every single day at lunch. I never thought about it much back then — I shared with him like I shared with my brothers, it was a given — but when we were in our 40s he told me how much it meant to him that I shared my lunch with him every day. He told me that he loved my mom and dad because they took care of him too. That meant the world to me."

Another jumped in to say "thank you" to the classmates who fed him.

"Coming from a guy that has a best friend that did this for me. Thank you. He saw it as nothing as well, I can never repay him for how much it meant to me. Even when my mother kicked me out at 16, I lived in his backyard in a tent and every time his father would leave, I would come in to eat, shower etc. He's still my best friend 28 years later and one of the only dudes I truly love to death."

One wondered why there isn't a better system in place to provide food for children whose parents are struggling.

Photo via iStock.

"My mom paid for my best friends lunch for 3 years in middle school because her parents believed that she didn't get hungry at school (read: they didn't give a shit about her). It's so sad to me that so many children don't get lunches at school. There really needs to be a system that will give a hungry child food no matter what. The kids can't help it if their parents don't feed them/make sure they get a lunch."

In response, a redditor recalled the shame that led them to lean on their friends for help.

"I knew we didn't have money so I never told my mom when I ran out of lunch money. One time I racked up a negative bill so bad they were going to not let me eat school lunch and they finally called my mom. When she came to pick me up she was crying at my school because she couldn't afford to pay it (she was working full time and didn't qualify for free lunch). My friends mom saw and paid it off plus added a chunk of money to it. I wasn't old enough to really appreciate the gesture, so I never said thanks. Will you tell your mom I said thanks, she didn't help me specifically but she helped somebody in the same situation so it might as well have been me."

One had a story about settling lunch debts for kids who owed the school:

"My son's school would literally give the students two packages of crackers (not cheese or peanut butter crackers, just regular crackers) and a carton of milk. Fortunately, my son never had to worry about that, but when I found out about it I started going into the school every month and paying up all the late accounts. It wasn't a major amount (the most I ever paid was around $23), but I couldn't bare the thought of one of these elementary kids eating that for lunch.
It really pissed me off that in the US we still have kids that are treated like that."

Which inspired another user to take action:

"I had a single mom, so we were poor when we were growing up. So poor that I actually feel guilty (I don't quite know how to describe the feeling but guilty is pretty close) that I'm married and that my child can grow up in a financially stable home.
I didn't know you could settle other children's lunch debts, and this is something that I want to do when it's time for my child to go to school. I'm glad I found out about this, thank you."

According to USDA, food insecurity affected at least 7 million American children in 2015.

Like the Reddit users who saw themselves in Josette and Dylan's story, these children lack access to affordable, nutritious food, they skip a meal every now and again to save money for other essentials, and others live in deep poverty.  

Like the Durans' Albuquerque school, many lunchrooms allow students to take a meal and pay later, but those who do accrue debt with the cafeteria frequently face stigma from peers and teachers. Some report feeling singled out when cafeteria workers remind them to pay. Others recall embarrassing lectures from school officials, and still others report having their lunches thrown away in front of them.

Some cities are trying to take the burden away from parents by stepping up to fill the holes in the USDA's National School Lunch Program, the main federal program that subsidizes meals for schoolchildren.

In 2014, New York City began offering free lunch — previously only available to the city's poorest children — to all middle school students. Baltimore followed suit in 2015.

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray eating lunch with fifth-graders in 2014. Photo by Susan Watts-Pool/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, some in Congress are trying to make it harder for schools to serve students across the board.

In 2010, Congress — with wide bipartisan support — passed a bill establishing a "community eligibility" standard for school districts wishing to serve breakfast and lunch to their students at no cost. Under the provision, students would no longer have to apply for free meals individually by household. Instead, meals would be subsidized for the entire student body based on the district's level of need — determined by its percentage of at-risk students.

A bill introduced in April by Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana seeks to limit the program and make fewer schools eligible — by raising the threshold of needy students required for schools to qualify from 40% to 60%.

There are a lot of hungry kids in America, and — unfortunately — a limited number of parents like Josette Duran.

Individual efforts to pay it forward are heartwarming. They're inspiring. And they only go so far. Feeding all of America's kids means supporting policies that expand benefits for children like that boy in Albuquerque — and the politicians who expand those benefits.

Students eat free breakfast at Holy Ghost Elementary School in Dubuque, Iowa, which recently qualified for federal community eligibility assistance. Photo by AP Photo/Telegraph Herald, Jessica Reilly.

Ensuring one child doesn't go hungry might take a concerned friend, a nosy neighbor, or a vigilant school.

Ensuring no child goes hungry? That takes all of us.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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