This 8-year-old turned her birthday into a donation celebration.
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State Farm

There's a certain feeling you get while talking to someone like Katherine Cartwright.

The energy changes. The air crackles as though a storm's on the horizon. Her enthusiasm rubs off and you suddenly feel inspired, like you might try organizing the garage or finishing the first draft of your novel.

It doesn't seem to matter that she's only 8 years old.


Image via State Farm/YouTube.

Katherine's always had big ideas and the drive to follow through on them. So her mom wasn't the least bit surprised when Katherine — a dog-lover who once saved up her Christmas money to adopt her three-legged rescue dog named Duke — wanted to do something more for her furry friends.

For her 8th birthday, Katherine decided to give up her gifts and do something special for the local shelter instead.

Watch the heartwarming story:

The Cartwrights are regular volunteers at their local humane shelter, and that's how Katherine got the idea to do something special to improve the lives of the animals who lived there.

"I saw lots of dogs and cats without toys and stuff," she says. She felt that the animals needed new things more than she did, and she just happened to have a birthday coming up.

Katherine's mom, Rachel, created a hashtag, #Donate4Katherine, and with the help of State Farm, got friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers involved. They collected far more blankets, beds, and toys than Katherine had ever anticipated. When Katherine's day finally came, she was totally surprised by all the support and donations.

"I'm shaking!" Katherine said, as she was greeted by a truckload of pet supplies.

Image via State Farm/YouTube.

According to the Cartwrights, this was far from a one-time deal. They're regular volunteers at the Humane Society and Katherine does lots of community work with her Girl Scout troop. She's also always thinking up new ideas for the future. "I want to be a vet," she says. "For my whole life, I want to help animals."

Image via iStock.

Katherine's a pretty amazing kid. But what's even more amazing is that her story isn't all that unusual.

Just this year alone, 8-year-old Falyn Svalstad collected more than her weight in nonperishable food, twins Jemima and Helen Snyder donated all their gifts to Philadelphia charities, and Gess Gallien's family sent his birthday funds to a Virginia organization that helps families pay emergency bills.

Those are just three examples — and it doesn't take much searching to find dozens more. There's even an online platform that helps parents and children plan their own charitable birthday party. It seems that charitable efforts can be contagious — after the success of Katherine's donation celebration, a few kids in her class announced similar parties, with plans to give their presents away to children in need.

But you don't need to have a birthday party in order to do good. State Farm is making it really easy to find giving opportunities, so that we can all live in one big Neighborhood of Good™.

Image via iStock.

Selfless kids like Katherine give us a lot to look forward to as younger generations grow.

These donation projects they're taking on prove something important: Kids are realizing early on that it can feel just as good to give to others as it does to receive, and there are a million different ways to help out a neighbor (whether people or puppies!). Their giving attitude and commitment to making a difference could be just what it takes to change the world for the better. Certainly, the more people in the world like Katherine, the better off we'll be.

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 difference between a politician and a public servant may be a matter of semantics, but when it comes to getting legislation passed that actually helps people, the contrast is stark.

Texas Representative James Talarico is on a mission to get his constituents the life-saving medicine they need. The 31-year-old lawmaker has just introduced legislation that would cap the price of insulin—a medicine people with type 1 diabetes need to live, which has become unaffordable for many—at $50 a month.

The mission is personal for Talarico, as he nearly died three years ago when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

He shared his story on Twitter:

"In May 2018, I was a healthy 28-year-old running for the Texas House. I decided to walk the entire length of my district and hold town halls along the way. I hike Big Bend every year, so I wasn't concerned about a 25 mile walk...

But halfway through the walk, I began feeling nauseous and fatigued. Before the town hall in Hutto, I vomited in the bathroom."

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

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.

Keep Reading Show less