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Community

A community in Arizona rallied together when their neighbor's pet tortoise wandered away from home

Elliot the tortoise had everyone from neighbors to DoorDash delivery drivers looking for him.

tortoise, elliot the tortoise, arizona, pet rescue

A tortoise can walk quite far.

We've told so many stories about pets escaping from their homes, but this is one you've probably never heard before.

In June, a 150-pound African sulcata tortoise named Elliot got out of his family's yard, setting off a wild goose (tortoise?) chase within his Arizona community. Yes, you read that correctly, a pet tortoise got out and had to be found.

On the morning of June 19, Cindy Iverson went out to her yard after letting her dogs out and discovered that a storm had blown the back gate open. This set up the perfect opportunity for Elliot to escape.


"We panicked," Iverson told PEOPLE. "We looked everywhere. They're so nomadic. They just walk and walk, these tortoises. Once they get out, they can walk miles and miles."

At the time, the weather was very hot, and Iverson and her husband Gary were worried about 12-year-old Elliot's safety. Because of the heat and the tortoise's ability to walk for long distances, Elliot could end up in real danger if he wasn't found quickly. So Cindy reached out to her neighborhood email list and put out the call.

"Immediately, one person replied and said, 'Hey, I lost my turtle a couple years ago, a girl delivering DoorDash saw a tortoise last night, had her dad Google to see if anyone lost a tortoise, and they contacted me,'" she told PEOPLE.

That neighbor told Iverson that the delivery driver had freed Elliot from a drainage ditch. The sighting gave Iverson hope that Elliot would be found. It also showed her that the community was rooting for them and wasn't going to let anything happen to the tortoise. So the Iversons shared the story more widely using NextDoor and the Oro Valley Community private Facebook page.

“The whole community just came together in terms of watching for him. We put up flyers, we put up pictures, stuff on people’s mailboxes. We actually saw a van driving around last night, really slow along with us, trying to find him. So, it was just an incredible outpour of people trying to help us out,” Gary told local television news station KOLD News 13.

The Iversons have had Elliot since he was a baby, and it's clear how much they love him. They could have never anticipated how much their community would show up for them in their time of need. Though they've lived in Arizona for more than 20 years, they're newer to their neighborhood and haven't really had a chance to get to know many of their neighbors. Clearly, that didn't matter when it came to finding their beloved pet.

“It really gives you a sense of community, of friendship and knowing that if this happened to somebody else, we would be right there with them as well, trying to help them out. Oro valley has a really strong community in trying to help each other,” Gary said.

About a day and a half after the Iversons discovered Elliot's disappearance, they got a call that Elliot had been found. He was about a half mile away from home, caught in the fence of a horse farm. Naturally, he was hungry and thirsty, and had allegedly had an encounter with a cactus. But all in all, he was in good shape. Because of where he was situated, the family was unable to use a car to retrieve him, so they decided to cart him home in a wagon.

"He came right to me when he saw me, but we tried to put him in the wagon, and he was having no part of that. So we just pulled the wagon, and he followed us all the way across that property, across the neighbor's property, to our car, and then it took two of us to lift him in the SUV and trot him home," Cindy told PEOPLE. It's good to see he was still ready to walk despite his ordeal.


Elliot's escape showed his owners what community can be. It's really heartwarming to see a whole group of strangers step up and join in to help, even though they didn't have to. Thankfully Elliot is safely home, and the Iversons are planning to reinforce their fence so he can't escape again. We love a happy ending.

True

The last thing children should have to worry about is where their next meal will come from. But the unfortunate reality is food insecurity is all too common in this country.

In an effort to help combat this pressing issue, KFC is teaming up with Blessings in a Backpack to provide nearly 70,000 meals to families in need and spread holiday cheer along the way.

The KFC Sharemobile, a holiday-edition charitable food truck, will be making stops at schools in Chicago, Orlando, and Houston in December to share KFC family meals and special gifts for a few select families to address specific needs identified by their respective schools.

These cities were chosen based on the high level of food insecurity present in their communities and hardships they’ve faced, such as a devastating hurricane season in Florida and an unprecedented winter storm in Houston. In 2021, five million children across the US lived in food-insecure households, according to the USDA.

“Sharing a meal with family or friends is a special part of the holidays,” said Nick Chavez, CMO of KFC U.S. “Alongside our franchisees, we wanted to make that possible for even more families this holiday season.”

KFC will also be making a donation to Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that works to provide weekend meals to school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry.

“The generous donations from KFC could not have come at a better time, as these communities have been particularly hard-hit this year with rising food costs, inflation and various natural disasters,” Erin Kerr, the CEO of Blessings in a Backpack, told Upworthy. “Because of KFC’s support, we’re able to spread holiday cheer by donating meals for hunger-free weekends and meet each community’s needs,” Kerr said.

This isn’t the first time KFC has worked with Blessings in a Backpack. The fried chicken chain has partnered with the nonprofit for the last six years, donating nearly $1 million dollars. KFC employees also volunteer weekly to package and provide meals to students in Louisville, Kentucky who need food over the weekend.

KFC franchisees are also bringing the Sharemobile concept to life in markets across the country through local food donations and other holiday giveback moments. Ampex Brands, a KFC franchisee based in Dallas, recently held its annual Day of Giving event and donated 11,000 meals to school children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

If you’d like to get involved, you can make a donation to help feed students in need at kfc.com/kfcsharemobile. Every bit helps, but a donation of $150 helps feed a student on the weekends for an entire 38-week school year, and a donation as low as $4 will feed a child for a whole weekend.

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If it weren't for modern Christmas music, we would never have been blessed/cursed with "Last Christmas" or "All I Want for Christmas Is You," and there's no question that such songs can be a mixed bag. But this year's surprise breakout holiday hit comes from a rather unexpected source—the one and only Kevin Bacon—and it's simply delighful.

Even more unexpectedly, Bacon's Christmas song comes from Marvel's "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special." If you didn't know there was a "Guardians of the Galaxy" Christmas special, you're not really missing much—except this Kevin Bacon song.

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One woman in Arkansas has taken to spreading kindness through writing letters to strangers. Allison Bond, 25, started writing letters over a year ago during COVID-19 when she couldn't attend school due to her medical condition. Bond has cerebral palsy and is at greater risk for serious illness should she contract the virus. Writing letters was an act of kindness that didn't require a trip out of the house.

Bond began by writing to soldiers and inmates. In fact, the first letter she received back was from a soldier. Bond told 5News, "I have one framed from a soldier. He had all his battle buddies sign it. So I framed it so I could put it up." She's kept every letter she's received.

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A loved one dying on a holiday isn't normally something to laugh about, but there are exceptions to every rule. This video is one of them.

TikTok user Darien (@dairy.n) shared a story about his family's Thanksgiving Day that is so gloriously bizarre and delightfully real, it's hard not to laugh, despite the fact that it's about his aunt dying. The fact that he tells the tale in the style of a "One thing about me" rap is extra hilarious, and judging by the comments of some of the 6.7 million people who've watched it, it's struck people's funny bones.

Dark humor? A little bit. But his aunt was 95 and she died of natural causes, which helps the hilarity feel not quite so inappropriate. She also apparently had a fabulous sense of humor that she used to cope with her own difficulties throughout her life, so the video is more like a fitting tribute than a what-the-heck storytelling.

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Gustavason explained to CBS News that her mother did not approve of her interracial relationship and wasn't shy about expressing her disdain for the couple. This disapproval of the courtship is what led to the breakup. Eventually, Gustavason and Watts married and divorced other people, but they never forgot about the love that ended too soon.

You'd think after four decades apart and all the life lived in between that the pair would have fully moved on. But it seems that true love really doesn't die because Gustavason went looking for Watts in 2021, and she found him.

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