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Westbrook Superintendent of School’s Peter Lancia was doing a TV interview on Monday about student lunch debt in his district when he received an email from a anonymous donor.  The message said that she wanted to help the families in the district that had unpaid accounts. A few hours later she sent a $10,000 check to the superintendent’s office. That donation would pay more than half of the debt that students currently have in Westbrook. “I’m not speechless often, and it was one of those moments,” Lancia said. “I know this will relieve a very significant amount of the overall debt,” Lancia said. Right now, Westbrook has accrued approximately $17,000 in debt this year.
Cancer sucks, but here is a little bit of good news: Cancer deaths have dipped almost 2 percent a year between 1999 and 2015 for men and about 1.5 percent a year for women. And while cancer rates for children increased slightly at about 1 percent between 2010 and 2014, their death rate also dropped 1.5 percent between 2011 and 2015. These findings were from a joint report of the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. These are considered significant declines, reflecting more accurate and successful cancer treatments as well as better detection. Cancer detected at earlier stages allows for more treatment options and a higher survival rate. As for how many cancers occur, rather than how well we survive them, the rate of cancer dropped 2.2 percent a year for men between 2008 and 2014 and stayed the same for women.
Alaska Airlines has decided to phase out plastic stirring sticks and will use compostable versions made of white birch instead. Alaska will start phasing out the plastic items from its flights and frequent-flier lounges on July 16th.  Though some global airlines have pledged to reduce the use of plastic, Alaska Airlines says it’s the first airline in the U.S. to eliminate them altogether. “Plastic is a serious issue for our planet. What’s important is continuing to move the global supply chain toward making sustainable materials accessible and affordable,” Shaunta Hyde, Alaska Airlines’ managing director – community relations, said in a statement.  She continued, “plastic straws are of special concern because they cannot be recycled, and they’ve been shown to kill birds and other marine life.” Alaska Airlines says that their overall goal is to reduce its in-flight waste per passenger going to landfills by 70% by 2020.
The beautiful flowers that filled St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding were later delivered to patients at a Hospice in London. St. Joseph's Hospice thanked the newlyweds for their generous donation in a Facebook post on Sunday. "Today we got a very special delivery. Beautiful bouquets made from the #royalwedding flowers which we gave to our patients. A big thank you to Harry and Meghan and florist Philippa Craddock. Our hospice smells and looks gorgeous. Such a lovely gesture." According to Nigel Harding, chief executive of the hospice, the patients were "both surprised and delighted to receive them."
The Texans have confirmed that J.J. Watt will pay for the funerals of those killed in the shooting at Santa Fe High School just 30 miles from downtown Houston. The Texans released the following statement after the horrific shooting. "On behalf of the Texans organization, we are saddened by the tragic events at Santa Fe High School this morning and extend our thoughts and heartfelt condolences to the victims, their families and all those affected. We are grateful for the brave first responders, law enforcement officials and medical personnel. The Texans family will continue to pray for our neighbors." Watt has been very active in the community since he was drafted by Houston in 2011. After Hurricane Harvey he started a fundraiser that raised more than $37 million for those affected by the flooding.
Victoria the southern white rhino is pregnant after the first successful artificial insemination in the San Diego Zoo’s 102-year history. “Science win!” the zoo posted on their Facebook page, adding that Victoria’s pregnancy may be the key to saving another rhino species, the northern white rhino. Victoria is “part of our one-of-a-kind rescue program to save her cousins, the northern white rhino.” According to the zoo, there are only two northern white rhinos alive left in the world because of poaching. Victoria’s pregnancy is proof that the zoo’s method works. Now that they know that it is possible, the next step is to replicate the scientific achievement with a northern white rhino. Victoria is seven weeks pregnant and she has another 15 to 18 months to go.
This week Dolly Parton donated $1 million Vanderbilt's Children's Hospital in Nashville in honor of her niece, Hannah Dennison, who is a former patient and leukemia survivor. "Twenty-six years ago is when Hannah was diagnosed with leukemia and for five years we didn't know if we'd be keeping her or not," Parton told a room full of doctors, nurses, patients and families. "But Hannah now stands here as our chemo hero. She shows that miracles do happen with good care, great doctors and great nurses." In return, the hospital dedicated it's second floor butterfly garden to Dennison, who turns 30 this week. "Now that we have Hannah's butterfly garden, we may come up and do little shows now and then and bring some joy to the kids," Parton said. "Or just come up and say, 'Hey, I got my guitar, want to sing some songs?' Bring a few smiles to the kids faces."
When learning that some low-income students were skipping commencement because they couldn’t afford the graduation cap and gown required, The Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association, based out of Wisconsin, launched a program to collect donated caps and gowns in local school colors. “We have students and families we know that aren’t able to attend graduation because they don’t have the financial means available to pay for a cap and gown,” said Pa Thao, executive director of the HMAA. “We did a donation drive so students who want to attend can have the proper attire to do so.” Janelle Patenaude, partnership coordinator at North High School said her list of students who need donated caps and gowns is substantially larger than last year. “Graduation is a major accomplishment,” Patenaude said, “and we want all kids to be able to celebrate that achievement and walk with their peers."
69-year-old Chinese national, Xia Boyu, lost both of his legs below the knee after suffering frostbite in a failed Everest expedition when he was 25 years old. He then attempted to climb Everest in 2014, 2015, and then again in 2016. In 2014, the season was cancelled due to an avalanche, and then again in 2015 because of a 7.8 earthquake that triggered more avalanches. In 2016 he was only 300 feet from the summit when a blizzard forced him to retreat. Now, at 69 years old, he finally reached the summit. Prior to his climb, Xia told TIME “I love the mountain...I will fight for it my entire life.”
In the Bago region of Myanmar, the international animal welfare organization FourPaws has begun construction of Elephant’s Lake, which will be one of the largest elephant sanctuaries in Southeast Asia. Around 1,000 of the elephants currently living in the region are former working elephants who onced worked for the logging industry. Due to stricter environmental controls and efforts in Myanmar to reduce the amount of deforestation in the country, these elephants are no longer needed. Privately owned elephants that no longer have any economic purpose are often seen as a burden and are typically killed or sold into the tourism industry. Dr. Amir Khalil, FourPaws veterinarian and head of the pilot project, said, “These magnificent, endangered animals do not deserve death or an equally cruel career change. At our first elephant sanctuary, the animals can recover from the exertions of their past and, ideally, be reintroduced to the wild.”
Steven A. Cohen, a former hedge fund titan worth of $11 billion, pledged $275 million to build a network of veterans clinics across the country. The Cohen Veterans Network has opened 12 clinics in military towns and major cities, including a new location in Denver, Colorado. "Every day, many veterans and their families are living with the mental and physical scars from serving their country during military service. The Cohen Veterans Network, a not-for-profit philanthropic organization, was created to serve them by providing high-quality, accessible, and integrated mental health care," the CVN website states. The clinics serve all post-9/11 veterans, veterans' family members, girlfriends, boyfriends and any other caregivers to veterans. Services are provided free of charge to those without insurance and others with insurance can access care for the cost of a small copay of only a few dollars.
IKEA recently donated 100 beds, pillows and bedding to World Relief Jacksonville. The organization will place the beds in new refugees’ homes when they resettle in Florida. According to World Relief Jacksonville Director Jose Vega, the donated beds allow the organization to spend money elsewhere: “So we can save some money to the refugees and we can spend it on other things, more important at this point, like one more month of rent for them.” Vega said World Relief Jacksonville resettled 233 refugees in the Jacksonville area last year and 59 refugees this year so far.