- 2020 has been a rough year, yet even with all of the bad news, there have been uplifting moments.
- Many stories emerged of everyday heroes helping each other during the pandemic.
- Families turned their postponed events — from weddings to bat mitzvahs — into moments of joy by donating food and flowers to strangers.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
2020 has been a rough year. But even with all of the bad news, there are still reasons to smile.
Here are 13 uplifting stories that gave us hope this year.
An abandoned house was completely renovated for a homeless veteran in February.
Working through the organization Operation Victory, more than 50 labor unions, community groups, and businesses spent six months renovating an abandoned house in Kentucky for veteran Torre Harris to move into.
"We saw there was a need in our community to help veterans and homeless folks," Tim Morris, director of the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, told Insider's Matthew Wilson.
Harris, 60, couldn't believe it when he was told the home was all his.
"I felt like a celebrity," Harris told Insider. "I just couldn't believe there was so many nice people in the world, period. I can say they really helped me out. It's such a touching thing to me."
After the coronavirus pandemic canceled their daughter's bat mitzvah party in March, a family turned the food into meal deliveries for people in quarantine.
Jordana Shmidman's bat mitzvah celebration in New York had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The food for the event was already prepared, so the Shmidman family told the caterers to package it up for delivery to people in quarantine. Parent volunteers then coordinated deliveries across the New York metropolitan area for staff members and their families.
Around 150 boxes of food were delivered to quarantined people in Bergen County, the Bronx, Westchester, Manhattan, Queens and Rockland County.
The boxes contained portions of pesto salmon, balsamic chicken, a "rocket dog" package with a hamburger, hot dog, fries and onion rings, butternut squash soup, fresh fruit, dinner rolls, and traditional hamantaschen cookies for the Jewish holiday of Purim.
A bride donated flowers from her postponed March wedding to nursing homes.
Like many couples with spring wedding plans, Kristall Goytia and Jason Oswald had to postpone their March nuptials due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was too late to cancel their flowers — the 500 roses, 300 hydrangeas, and assorted greenery had already shipped. So the couple, from New Braunfels, Texas, decided to pass them along to people in need of cheering up.
"We knew that so many people were being impacted by COVID-19 but we knew the people it was affecting the most were elderly and healthcare workers," Goytia told Insider. "We wanted somebody to be able to enjoy our flowers since we wouldn't be able to, so we decided to donate them to the local nursing homes."
Cleveland Cavaliers player Kevin Love donated $100,000 to support the arena's hourly employees after NBA games were suspended.
The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, a move that impacted the arena's hourly employees as well as the players. Love shared in an Instagram post that he was committing $100,000 from his foundation, the Kevin Love Fund, to support staff whose income is affected by the coronavirus.
"I hope that during this time of crisis, others will join me in supporting our communities," he wrote.
When a couple downsized their wedding and got married at home, their entire neighborhood surprised them by celebrating from their cars.
Anastasija and Josh Davis of British Columbia, Canada, were supposed to get married on April 3 in front of 135 guests. As the coronavirus pandemic escalated and gatherings of over 50 people were prohibited, they had to rethink their wedding plans.
The couple got married in Josh's parents' living room in front of immediate family and the groom's best man. When they rode in a limousine to another location to take photos, the best man told them to roll down the window. Their friends lined the streets with signs, balloons, streamers, and music blasting from their cars.
"They were honking, cheering, yelling congratulations," Anastasija told Insider. "Josh and I were shocked. We were crying, we couldn't believe this was happening. Seeing them on the street, celebrating our day with us, made it so magical."
Owners of a Georgia bar took down the dollar bills decorating its walls and ceiling to give to unemployed staffers in April.
The Sand Bar on Tybee Island in Georgia is known as the "dollar-bill bar" because for years customers have been writing notes on singles and stapling them to the walls and ceilings.
Insider's Haven Orecchio-Egresitz reported that the bar's owner, Jennifer Knox, and volunteers spent days painstakingly taking down the bills and picking out the staples so they could donate the money to the bar's out-of-work employees.
The bills added up to $3,714. Knox exchanged them for fresh ones at a bank and gave $600 to each of her four bartenders and two musicians.
"It was so emotional and beautiful," Knox told Insider. "We couldn't hug them, which absolutely sucked, but they were just crying."
Princess Sofia of Sweden traded her tiara for scrubs to volunteer at Sophiahemmet hospital in Stockholm during the pandemic.
After completing a three-day medical emergency training course, Princess Sofia helped healthcare workers in April by carrying out supporting duties such as disinfecting equipment, cleaning, and working in the kitchen.
An 11-year-old girl and her pony cheered up nursing home residents by visiting them at their windows in May.
Jorja Boller of Beatrice, Nebraska, has been a volunteer at her local nursing home, Good Samaritan Society, for the past five years. When she heard the residents were stuck in isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic, she wanted to do something to brighten their days.
At the care home, Jorja brought Peanut to the window so the residents could see her. Robin Gascon, the director of marketing and resource development at Good Samaritan, said they were "so excited."
"They would see the staff come to the window and they would wave and you could tell right when their eyes saw the pony because they instantly lit up with smiles from ear to ear!" she told Insider's Zoe Ettinger.
In July, a restaurant patron thanked servers for working through the pandemic with a $1,000 tip on a $43 bill.
Arnold Teixeira, owner of Starving Artist in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, told CNN that the customer and his family left the tip at his restaurant without saying a word.
"When the waiter serving them saw the tip, she just started crying. Then another one of my staff members saw it and started crying, too. And then I see it, and I couldn't help but cry. It was just extremely emotional because it's been a really difficult time for us," he said.
The tip was accompanied by a note that read, "Thank you so much for working through this tough time. You are a big part of our [Ocean Grove] community. We are grateful for your delicious food, warm smiles, and great atmosphere … Please know we appreciate you all very much. It wouldn't be a good summer without the Starving Artist."
A man opened a bag of broccoli to find seven caterpillars inside, and he kept them as pets until they transformed into butterflies.
British TV and radio presenter Sam Darlaston found seven caterpillars on his supermarket broccoli in July. Instead of throwing them away, he gave them a Tupperware home and began sharing updates on Twitter. The caterpillars eventually cocooned and emerged as butterflies, which he released into the wild.
Darlaston is happy that his Twitter thread kept people smiling during the pandemic.
"I hope it's given them a little bit of hope in a way," he told Insider's Anneta Konstantinides. "You see these butterflies now free, even though we're still locked in. But the butterflies are still out there, and we can live vicariously through them."
A bride and groom couldn't have their dream big wedding due to the coronavirus, so they donated and served all their food to a children's shelter.
Tyler and Melanie Tapajna from Parma, Ohio, had originally planned a celebration with 150 guests to take place in August.
But when they realized that wasn't going to be possible due to the pandemic, they served their wedding food (still in their wedding finery) to Laura's Home, a women and children's shelter run by The City Mission in Cleveland.
"Even though this was different to what we planned, overall we made so many more friends and family in the process," Melanie told Insider's Rachel Hosie. "You normally just invite the people you know. We never thought we would have met so many amazing people planning this. We could not be happier with the outcome. I would do it all over again."
New York hospital staff sang and danced for a COVID-19 patient leaving the ICU after 158 days.
Rabbi Yehuda "Yudi" Dukes spent nearly half a year in critical condition due to complications from COVID-19. He endured four and a half months on a ventilator, and experienced double lung failure, a tracheotomy, septic shocks, and countless other life-threatening conditions throughout his hospitalization.
The 38-year-old father of six from Long Island, New York, is believed to be one of the longest-hospitalized coronavirus patients in the US. In September, after 158 days, he finally left the ICU to begin rehab.
Motti Seligson, director of media at Chabad.org, shared video on Twitter of Dukes being wheeled out of the ICU as onlookers sang, danced, and clapped for him. Guests sang an upbeat niggun, a traditional worldless melody from the Chabad sect of Hasidic Judaism.
Dr. Anthony Fauci FaceTimed a 14-year-old hospital patient at the National Institute of Health.
Florida native Benjamin Ciment was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 8 years old. Now 14, he visits the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC, every few months for treatment and meetings with doctors.
While visiting the hospital in October, he and his mother, Adina, decided on a whim to see if Dr. Anthony Fauci was around for a quick selfie. While he couldn't do selfies because of social distancing, his staff did arrange a FaceTime call with Benjamin.
"He's a really nice person," Benjamin said. "I thought he would be really uptight, busy doing things, but he took the time out of the day to talk to a patient, and I thought it was really nice."
Adina said that the conversation was a bright spot during a difficult week.
"It really was a moment between Binny and Dr. Fauci," she said. "It wasn't political, there was no ulterior motive, it was really just him reaching out to a kid that's going through treatment and could use a boost, and that's really what he did."
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