These stressed-out parents got help from a surprising source: total strangers.

They say "it takes a village" to raise a child. And sometimes, they're totally right.

Whoever invented children obviously never intended for them to be taken out in public. Us parents only have two hands to wrangle them with. We can only run so fast as we chase them through a crowd.

We only have so much patience!


Sometimes, we need a little help. And for every person who rolls their eyes when they hear a baby on a plane, or for every cafe that threatens to discipline your kids if they disrupt other diners, there are tons of people who understand the struggle and are happy to lend a helping hand.

Here are five stories of random strangers stepping in to help parents in need to remind you that we're all in this together:

1. A kind lady cut up this mom's food so she could breastfeed her son.

Photo by Briar Mcqueen, used with permission.

For parents of young kids, going out to eat can be a small pleasure in a day full of diapers and tantrums. Well — if the kids cooperate, that is.

"Today was the first time I went out for breakfast alone with my 8 week old son," Briar Mcqueen recently wrote on Facebook. Immediately, she had her hands full. Her son, Jaxon, started crying for food.

So she put her own food aside and fed him.

"After a few minutes this older lady walked up to me, I was scared, thinking she was gonna tell me to put my boob away, instead she starts cutting up my breakfast for me and said 'what a good mama you are, we can't have your food getting cold can we.'"

What a sweet surprise.

"I honestly could have cried," Briar wrote.

2. This mom couldn't get her baby to fall asleep on a plane. But the woman next to her could.

Photo by Rebekkah Garvison, used with permission.

Flying with a baby is every parent's nightmare. And for Rebekkah Garvison, that nightmare arrived in full force on a recent flight. Her young daughter, Rylee, wouldn't stop crying. The plane was full, and it hadn't even taken off yet.

It was going to be a long ride.

But when Rebekkah changed seats to get a little more room, she got an amazing response from her new seatmate, Nyfesha Miller, who offered to try her hand at calming the little one down.

"As soon as she had her, Rylee was looking out the window and stopped crying," Rebekkah wrote on Facebook. "When we got in the air she fell right asleep and slept in her lap the whole flight until we got to our gate. [Nyfesha] kept saying it wasn't a problem at all and it was actually a comforting feeling for her. She even carried her off the plane and held her so I could get the stroller and carseat put back together so I wasn't struggling to try and do it all alone."

"You will never understand how happy this act of kindness has made my family," Rebekkah wrote.

3. For these parents, all hell broke loose at a restaurant. The kindness of two strangers made things a little easier.

Photo by Melissa Wistehuff, used with permission.

Murphy's Law says that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. That's exactly what happened to the Wistehuff family during a recent trip to a local restaurant.

First, their youngest son, Ian, threw an epic, screaming, flailing tantrum. Then, with Ian still losing it, their older daughter Luca said she felt like she was going to throw up. The parents, Melissa and Jason, divided and conquered as best they could. But there was no denying the disaster at hand. They asked for the check in a hurry...

...only, the waiter explained, the tab had already been picked up by a fellow diner who was impressed with their patient parenting. Another nearby diner then offered to pay the tip.

For the Wistehuffs, it was one less thing to stress about in a chaotic moment.

“Just when you think that the world is putting you down, they’re not. They’re picking you up,” Melissa told Yahoo! Parenting. “They completely changed our night.”

4. A couple of kind words were exactly what these parents needed to hear during a stressful evening out.


Photo by Stephanie Hartman, used with permission.

Stephanie and Arick Hartman's son Avery was born early. Very early. He came into the world after only 25 weeks, weighing just over one pound. He also, unsurprisingly, came with a lot of health problems.

After a few months, though, the Hartmans were feeling confident enough to take Avery out to his first dinner in public.

"It wasn’t long before he vomited. All over Arick’s shirt," Stephanie wrote for The Mighty. Arick passed him over to Stephanie. In case she was feeling left out, Avery vomited on her, too!

"We were unaware that all of this had attracted the attention of our neighbors. ... They were middle aged and decked out head-to-toe in biker leather," Stephanie wrote. "For a few minutes they admired Avery, but it was what that man said before they left that will stick with me forever. He put a heavy hand on my husband's shoulder. 'I want you to know, being a dad isn’t easy. But you. You’re doing a great job.' He looked at me. 'You both are.'"

5. This guy did his job with one hand and soothed one mom's baby with the other.

Photo by Coty Vincent, used with permission.

Coty Vincent was not having a great day. She was trying to secure a rental car following an accident, and on top of that, she had her hands full with her young twins.

As anyone who has ever rented a car can tell you, the process is not usually a quick one. Thankfully, as Coty's restless twins began to squirm, a friendly Enterprise employee stepped up to the plate.

"While he helped me with my rental due to a hit and run accident, he held one of my twin sons as I don't have a double stroller," Coty wrote on Facebook. "One of the most compassionate and caring people I've ever met. We need more people like John who go that extra step. "

To all the kind people out there who are willing to help soothe, wrangle, feed, or just hold our kids: thank you.

We might not want to admit it, but as a parent myself, I know that we're not always sure we can do this on our own.

One day, when we find ourselves out and about without our kids and we see a young parent struggling with a powder-keg toddler or a fussy infant, we'll be more than happy to pay it forward.

Photo courtesy of Yoplait
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When Benny Mendez asked his middle school P.E. students why they wanted to participate in STOKED—his new after school program where kids can learn to skateboard, snowboard, and surf—their answers surprised him.

I want to be able to finally see the beach, students wrote. I want to finally be able to see the snow.

Never having seen snow is understandable for Mendez's students, most who live in Inglewood, CA, just outside of Los Angeles. But never having been to the beach is surprising, since most of them only live 15-20 minutes from the ocean. Mendez discovered many of them don't even know how to swim.

"A lot of the kids shared that they just want to go on adventures," says Mendez. "They love nature, but...they just see it in pictures. They want to be out there."

Mendez is in his third year of teaching physical education at View Park K-8 school, one of seven Inner City Foundation Education schools in the Los Angeles area. While many of his students are athletically gifted, Mendez says, they often face challenges outside of school that limit their opportunities. Some of them live in neighborhoods where it's unsafe to leave their houses at certain times of day due to gang activity, and many students come to his P.E. class with no understanding of why learning about physical health is important.

"There's a lot going on at home [with my students]," says Mendez. "They're coming from either a single parent home, or foster care. There's a lot of trauma behind what's going on at home...that is out of our control."

Photo courtesy of Yoplait

What Mendez can control is what he gives his students when they're in his care, which is understanding, some structure, and the chance to try new things. Mendez wakes up at 4:00 a.m. most days and often doesn't get home until 9:00 p.m. as he works tirelessly to help kids thrive. Not only does he run after school programs, but he coaches youth soccer on the weekends as well. He also works closely with other teachers and guidance counselors at the school to build strong relationships with students, and even serves as a mentor to his former students who are now in high school.

Now Mendez is earning accolades far and wide for his efforts both in and out of the classroom, including a surprise award from Yoplait and Box Tops for Education.

Yoplait and Box Tops are partnering this school year to help students reach their fullest potential, which includes celebrating teachers and programs that support that mission. Yoplait is committed to providing experiences for kids and families to connect through play, so teaming up with Box Tops provided an opportunity to support programs like STOKED.

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Ndakasi and Virunga National Park ranger André Bauma.

Fourteen years ago, Ndakasi the mountain gorilla was found clinging to her dead mother in the Congo after bushmeat hunters wiped out her entire family. This week it was announced that she recently passed away in the arms of Virunga National Park ranger André Bauma, the man who rescued her.

Bauma served as Ndakasi's caretaker since he brought her to the park's Senkwekwe Center, where she was rehabilitated along with another orphaned gorilla named Ndeke. Unable to be safely returned to the wild, Ndakasi lived her life in Virunga, where mountain gorilla conservation is a priority.

The park shared a touching photo and announcement of Ndakasi's passing on Facebook. The gorilla had been suffering from a prolonged illness, and her condition had rapidly deteriorated. A photo shows Bauma sitting on a blanket leaning up against the wall with Ndakasi lying next to him, her head on his chest and her toes gripping his boot.

"Ndakasi took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, André Bauma," reads the post.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!