After a story about a boy bringing lunch for his classmate went viral, Reddit responded.

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.

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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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.