The news getting you down? These awesome, selfless acts should pick you back up.
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Truvia

When was the last time you witnessed a genuinely selfless act?

Maybe someone held the door for you when your arms were laden with groceries, or perhaps you happened to see someone run into the street and grab a child's bike so that it didn't get hit by an oncoming car. No matter the size of the gesture, these purely altruistic moments probably left you feeling just a little bit better about humanity as a whole.

Photo by Alex Boyd/Unsplash.


It's important that we don't forget about these moments, no matter how small they may be, especially in the midst of all the discord and divisiveness going on in America today.

Sometimes there are days when the news can seem so overwhelmingly negative that it can feel like there's nothing remotely good going on in the world anymore. Those days are when it's the easiest to stop trying and just give into jadedness.

However, those days are also  when it's most important to do something — anything — kind in order to remind yourself, and whoever you're helping, that, despite all the conflict out there, people are inherently compassionate.

We have the power to make the world a better place. All it takes is a moment of thoughtfulness for someone else.

Photo by William Murphy/Flickr.

Here are 5 acts of kindness that people experienced first-hand to help motivate you to do something altruistic today.

1. Chris Cucchiara, a personal trainer from San Jose, California, watched his roommate give a vital gift to a homeless person.

"About two weeks ago, I was driving with my roommate, and we saw a homeless guy without shoes," writes Cucchiara in an email. "I was driving, but my roommate, who had fairly new shoes on, took off his shoes, got out and gave them to the homeless man. I had sandals in the car so I just gave them to my roommate to wear for the rest of our trip into town and back to our house. I felt honored to witness that act."

When you can afford several pairs of shoes, it's easy to forget how much just one pair can mean to someone who has none.

2. These wedding vendors all decided to offer their services free of charge to a couple who lost a lot in two devastating hurricanes.

Marty and Lauren on their wedding day. Photo by Anne Bequette, STJ Creative Photography. Used with permission.

Anne Bequette, took newlyweds Marty and Lauren's engagement photos a year ago in the midst of a devastating scene. Their hometown of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands had been hit hard by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, but their love story managed to survive the storms.

However in the year that followed that photo shoot, Marty lost his job in the boat charter industry because of the steep drop in tourism, and Lauren lost hers because the resort that she had worked at had been completely destroyed.

When Bequette heard about this, she decided to do what she could to give the couple the wedding they deserved despite the fact that they couldn't afford it.

"After hearing their story, LLG Events was touched and immediately began planning," explains Carly Long, who works for LLG. "They first enlisted David Kimmel Design to come on board for pro bono floral design. Then, the team received a hopeful email from Marta Santamaria, owner of The Venue and The Ridge in Asheville, North Carolina, which also happened to be where Marty's family resides. Marta wanted to be involved in any capacity, willing to donate both of her venues and provide catering, linen, staff and more for the event."

This generosity was contagious. More and more wedding vendors were inspired to lend a hand until the entire wedding was taken care of.  

"What Marty, Lauren and their island community experienced was unimaginable, and to get to see firsthand a bit of redemption in their lives on Saturday night after all they've lost was just beautiful," writes Erica Berg of Collective Music Solutions in an email. She ended up donating a guitarist for the ceremony and DJ'd the reception herself.

3. Grant Wiley from Atlanta, Georgia, witnessed his friend pull people from car wrecks not once, but multiple times in a year.

Photo via Rian Castillo/Flickr.

"I have a friend, Joelle, who, over the last year, has pulled two people out of car wrecks." writes Wiley in an email. "One was a flipped car, the other a head on collision with a pole. And a month ago, after a third accident, in which one of her neighbors was hit by a pizza delivery van, Joelle tried for 20 minutes to keep her alive using basic resuscitation skills she happened to know. She never left her side, even though her neighbor died in her arms."

He continues, "She went a step further this weekend. The police had left spray paint marks all over the road, where her neighbor had been hit. It was in front of the neighbor’s house and the family had to see it every day. In the middle of the night, she went and scrubbed the paint off the road so that they wouldn't have to do it."

It may seem like a small kindness, but Joelle's efforts no doubt gave her neighbor's family some respite from the pain of losing a loved one.

4. Gary Gach, an author from San Francisco, saw not one, but several good Samaritan strangers help an old man when he was in trouble.

"I was standing on a corner, waiting for the light to change when across the street,  when an older man going from the drugstore to the parking lot suddenly fell over backwards into the street," writes Gach in an email. "Immediately, two passersby stopped and went over to him. Then two more arrived, and soon all four were helping him up. Then [they] stayed to make sure he was alright."

He continued, "The scene provided a clear mirror of an essential truth in life: we don’t have to manufacture compassion; we uncover it through action."

5. Calvin Murphy from Ocean City, New Jersey, had an altogether transformative experience with his Uber driver.

Photo via Jeff McReynolds/Flickr.

Murphy wasn't in a great mood when he was taking an Uber in Philadelphia for work. There was traffic and it was raining, and he wasn't initially pleased with his driver, who seemed too tired for conversation.

However, an unexpected literal roadblock changed everything.

The storm had blown a giant tree branch into the road, and it was blocking one of the lanes, causing a major backup.

"As we approach the road block, I noticed my driver wasn't even looking to switch over to the left lane," writes Murphy in an email. "Instead, he drives right up to and stops in front of this giant tree limb — maybe a foot thick, 15 feet long, with all sorts of branches and leaves coming off of it —  puts the car in park, gets out, and in the absolute pouring rain, pulls the branch over to the side of the road, opening the road not just for himself but for everyone else behind him."

Murphy continues, "And get this — when he gets back into the car, soaking wet, he apologizes to me for getting out and hoped that it didn't make me uncomfortable, and then THANKED ME, saying that because of my patience, all those people behind us will get home to their families sooner. "

Photo by Heath Brandon/Flickr.

The experience made him take a deeper look at all the things people do for each other that often go unnoticed.

"I'll be honest, my impression of this guy actually got me thinking about how that 45 second act saved so many people so much time on their commute home, and they will never even know about it. And it got me thinking how many things are done every day that make my day better, that I didn't even know about, or appreciate. Most of all, it got me thinking about the little things I can do to make other people's lives so much easier."

While they may seem extraordinary, these altruistic experiences are anything but.

People go out of their way to show kindness to strangers every single day all over the world. You may not always see them or be aware of them (as Murphy noted), but that doesn't mean they aren't making someone's life better.

And that good energy doesn't just disappear — it can inspire others to do something good for someone in their community, and so on, and so on, and so on.

What act will you add to the altruism ripple effect?

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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The disease is potentially fatal if not discovered early and accounts for about 11%-13% of all cancer deaths of men between the ages of 15-35. An estimated 9,60 people were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2020, resulting in around 440 deaths.

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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.