+

At first glance, you might not notice anything different about 10-year-old Emma Fletcher.

She glows with energy and innocence. But if you look beyond her curly blond hair and shimmering smile, you'll see that she wears a prosthetic on her right leg — the result of a rare birth defect that she has lived with her entire life.

Emma is a happy and athletic 10-year-old, but the reality is that her condition isn't one that you're likely to see reflected on the dolls at your local toy store.

So you can image Emma's surprise when her little sister presented her with a brand-new American Girl doll that had ... some special features.

When Emma first opened the box, it looked like any other doll...

(And like any other kid, she was annoyed and confused with her mom's insistence that she read the note that came along with the gift. Ugh, parents.)

But when she tore the box apart, Emma realized she had more in common with her new toy than just blond hair.

As she burst into tears, she exclaimed:

Emma's parents bought her an American Doll with a customized prosthetic leg — just like hers.

The doll came from a New York-based company called A Step Ahead, which offers their customization services for free — you just provide the doll. As they explain on their website:

"We feel that it is absolutely crucial to boost the self-confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of inclusion for little girls with limb loss, and that something as small as a doll that resembles them can have a profound effect on their mental and physical well-being."

The "doctors" who performed the amputation and prepared the doll's new prosthetic leg even included a personal note for Emma to read when she opened her gift:

That "life without limitations" part is really the crux of this whole heartwarming story.

Emma is just one of nearly 2 million people in the United States living with limb loss. Prosthetics have been around for hundreds of years, and newer medical advancements are making it easier than ever for people to lead fulfilling lives, unimpeded — and sometimes, enhanced — by their amputations.

So it's not that kids like Emma can't connect with toys or celebrities or fictional characters who don't have prosthetics. They can, and they do.

But they also shouldn't have to feel alone.

When people who might feel alienated finally get to see themselves represented in the world, it means the world.

Small gestures like this doll help kids like Emma feel like they're not alone. It lets them know that their experiences and struggles are real, and that they matter.

Check out the full emotional video of Emma opening her new gift below:

Just ... maybe grab like 10 box of tissues before you hit play. You're gonna need it.

via Chewy

Adorable Dexter and his new chew toy. Thanks Chewy Claus.

True

Every holiday season, millions of kids send letters asking for everything from a new bike to a pony. Some even make altruistic requests such as peace on Earth or helping struggling families around the holidays.

But wouldn’t the holiday season be even more magical if our pets had their wishes granted, too? That’s why Chewy Claus is stepping up to spread holiday cheer to America’s pets.

Does your dog dream of a month’s supply of treats or chew toys? Would your cat love a new tree complete with a stylish condo? How about giving your betta fish some fresh decor that’ll really tie its tank together?

Or do your pets need something more than mere creature comforts such as life-saving surgery?

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash

Teen raises $186,000 to help Walmart worker retire.

In America, many people have to work well past the age of retirement to make ends meet. While some of these people choose to work past retirement age because it keeps them active, some older people, like Nola Carpenter, 81, work out of necessity.

Carpenter has been working at Walmart for 20 years, way beyond most people's retirement age just so that she can afford to continue to pay her mortgage. When 19-year-old Devan Bonagura saw the woman looking tired in the break room of the store, he posted a video to his TikTok of Carpenter with a text overlay that said, "Life shouldn't b this hard..." complete with a sad face emoji.

In the video, Carpenter is sitting at a small table looking down and appearing to be exhausted. The caption of the video reads ":/ I feel bad." Turns out, a lot of other people did too, and encouraged the teen to start a GoFundMe, which has since completed.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

US players comforting Iranian opponents after their World Cup match is humanity at its best

The politically charged match ended with several beautiful displays of genuine human connection.

US and Iranian players embrace after World Cup match-up.

The lead-up to the 2022 World Cup match between the U.S. and Iran was filled with anticipation, as the teams battled for a spot in the final 16 and long-running tensions between the two nations on the political stage rose to the surface.

The Iranian team had some internal tensions of its own to deal with as players navigated the spotlight amid human rights protests in their home country and rigid expectations of their government. According to CNN, after refusing to sing the national anthem before its match against England on November 21, the Iranian team was reportedly called into a meeting with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and told that their families would face “violence and torture” if they did not sing the anthem or engaged in any other form of protest.

Hence, before the match against the U.S., the players were shown somberly singing the anthem. Then they got down to the business they were there for—trying to win (or at least tie) a soccer match to advance to the World Cup round of 16.

It was an exciting game, with the U.S. ultimately winning 1-0. But in the end, all of the intense competition and political tensions were superseded by some truly heartwarming acts of good sportsmanship and human kindness.

Keep ReadingShow less

Philadelphia is taking the city back to the past.

Remember when calling your parents, a tow truck or a friend when you were out and about meant digging in your pocket for a quarter to make a pay phone call? Well, a Philadelphia-based collective, PhilTel, is jumping into the past with a modern twist, by installing free-to-use pay phones throughout the city.

Of course, the pay phones that many of us grew up were removed from public places years ago. There no longer seemed to be a need for them when most people had a phone in their pocket or in their hand. But it's easy to forget that not everyone has or wants that luxury. For some people, staying that connected all the time can be too much and for others, it's simply financially impossible to own a cell phone.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Jaleel Akbash on Unsplash

Japanese soccer fans explain why they clean the stadium after a match.

Japanese fans at the World Cup tournament have been receiving praise for their admirable habit of cleaning up the stadium after their team's matches. It's commonplace to see Japanese fans, blue garbage sacks in hand, hanging back after the game to pick up the trash everyone has left behind in the stadium.

It's not the first time Japanese cleanliness has made headlines. Some schools in Japan don't even hire janitorial staff, as the students clean their schools themselves. Other than in specific educational programs such as Montessori (where practical skills and habits like cleaning and organizing the environment are incorporated into the pedagogy), that idea is practically unheard of in the U.S. But watching the Japanese fans picking up after a game, the automatic assumption that someone else is going to clean up after us feels like a mistake.

So what is it that compels Japanese fans to clean the stadium at the World Cup, despite the fact that there are people hired to do it already?

It generally comes down to one word: "atarimae."

Keep ReadingShow less