Customers are buying all of this store's donuts early each morning so this loyal husband can visit his wife in the hospital.

For almost 30 years, John Chhan and his wife, Stella, have been serving customers their fresh donuts. But for the past month, Stella's been absent.

The Chhans came to the U.S. as refugees from Cambodia in 1979. They opened a donut shop called Donut City in Seal Beach, and the duo has been doling out delicious daily donuts ever since.

But last month, Stella stopped showing up behind the counter. She'd suffered a brain aneurysm, and though she survived, she was very weak and slowly recovering in a rehab facility. That meant that John Chhan had run the shop alone and be away from his sick wife. When customers learned of the situation, they wanted to do something to help.


Some offered to set up a GoFundMe account, but Chhan declined. He said he simply wanted more time with his wife. So Donut City customers embarked on a different mission: to help Chhan sell out his inventory as quickly as possible each day.

Customers rally bright and early every morning to buy out Chhan's donuts so he can be with his sick wife.

Through word of mouth, online, and in community newsletters, Donut City customers are encouraging people to buy donuts early and buy lots of them. Customers show up when the shop opens at 4:30am, and thanks to many of them buying a dozen donuts at at time, the trays are empty by 7:30 most days.

Locals say they're simply returning the kindness the Chhans have shown them over the years. Lifelong Donut City customer Steven O'Fallon shared his feelings with CNN."It is heartbreaking to hear her misfortune," he said. "She was always in the back making doughnuts. I would drop by there with my mom and dad in the mornings before school. John would always toss a few extra doughnut holes. He always has a smile on his face."

This is what community showing up looks like.

John Chhan told ABC7 news that the he appreciates the outpouring of support from the community and that it feels "very warm." He is happy to be able to leave the shop early and spend more time with his wife as she recovers.

Stella is making good progress, by the way. “She can talk, she can write,” Chhan told CBS affiliate KCAL news. “Right now she’s trying to start…eat something.”

Is there anything sweeter than people helping people?

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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