This teacher used a game show win to surprise every student in her school. Big time.

If I asked you to picture Australia in the winter, what comes to mind?

This, maybe?


"We're having fun, fun, fun, fun, fun in the sun..."

Not so fast.

Where Bri Dredge works as a teacher in Ballarat, a city in the Aussie state of Victoria, winter is actually a lot more like this:

GIF from "Star Wars."

"In Australia?" you ask.

Yes, in Australia! The average low temperature in July (which is winter in the Southern Hemisphere) is about 37° Fahrenheit. So, no, we're not talking Chicago in February, but still — it's cold!

That's why, when Dredge won big on a game show, she wanted to hit up the store to buy 200+ pairs of sturdy winter boots.

Dredge's prize for her win was $20,000 AUD (about $14,700 USD) on the Aussie television game show "Millionaire Hot Seat."

But instead of spoiling herself in a shoe store (because all women love shoes, amiright? #justkidding #stereotypesareboring), Dredge wanted to buy boots for a couple hundred people who she knew could use them more than she could.

Photo courtesy of Bri Dredge.

She planned on giving one pair of boots to every student at her school.

"When I walked into school on Friday morning [after the game show win], I was greeted with hugs and thank you[s] from nearly the entire student body," Dredge told Upworthy. "The smiles on their faces were worth more than any money I had won!"

"I've always thought that if you have warm, dry feet then the rest of you is warm, which is the best condition to be in for learning."

The show's host, Eddie McGuire, actually played an important role in Dredge's win, as he'd encouraged her to "have another think" after she answered incorrectly on the final question.

"I couldn't help but get swept up in it," he told Confidential of Dredge's generous spirit and his decision to let her guess again.

"Good quality leather school shoes were the obvious 'good fit' gift as the weather here ... in winter is bitterly cold and wet," Dredge explained. "I've always thought that if you have warm, dry feet then the rest of you is warm, which is the best condition to be in for learning."

But before Dredge could hit up the mall and make the purchase, a generous shoe company decided to help her achieve her goal and let her keep her prize money.

Inspired by Dredge's generosity, Steve Gunn — the CEO of shoe wear company Blundstone Australia — announced on the radio that his company would be donating 210 pairs of boots to her students.

Needless to say, Dredge was floored: "I am so incredibly grateful for, and overwhelmed by, his generous offer."

The students had their feet measured and will get their pairs during a school assembly on Aug. 3, 2015.

They're all "very excited," according to Dredge.

She told Upworthy that — now that the shoes have been generously donated by Blundstone — she's thinking of a different way she can use her prize winnings to give back to her school and community.

Aww! Dredge said shoes seemed like the perfect gift every student at her school could appreciate, regardless of age, as they range between 5 and 14 years old. Photo courtesy of Bri Dredge.

Dredge's generosity perfectly exemplifies how one act of kindness can have a big ripple effect.

After all, here's how it went:

  1. Dredge decided to give back to her students, should she win the prize.
  2. The show's host was touched by her decision and nudged her in the right direction. And she won!
  3. A CEO was inspired by Dredge's generosity and decided to donate the shoes to her students, so now Dredge can do something else entirely for the good of her community with her prize winnings.

And who knows how many of these 200+ students will be inspired to do some good because of Dredge's act?

If you ever need proof that kindness is contagious, here it is.

True

Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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