NEWSSTAND

Good Samaritan Uses School Bus to Rescue Animals from Florence

When most people think about helping animals, they usually think of adopting a pet or being conscious of how they consume animal products. Tony Alsup is no ordinary person. When Hurricane Harvey hit last year, he wanted to save as many animals as possible from the devastating floods. He bought a school bus and drove it to overcrowded shelters to pick up animals who need homes.

Florence Rescue

Alsup piloted his bus into flooded parts of South Carolina, where he stopped at several shelters to take on as many pets as the bus could hold. According to the Washington Post, “In less than 48 hours, he stopped at the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach (S.C.), the Dillon County (S.C.) Animal Shelter, another in Orangeburg, S.C., and Saint Frances Animal Center in Georgetown, S.C.”

Following the rescue, Alsup drove to Alabama where a friend gave the animals warm baths and a safe place to stay. Word of the rescue spread on social media, and some neighbors showed up on the spot to adopt an animal. However, Alsup wasn’t finished. After a quick rest at a Waffle House, he headed back behind the wheel, destined for Wilmington, North Carolina.

Good Samaritan

Rescue organizations often repeat the line that every animal saved from a shelter really means two lives saved. The rescuer not only saves the first animal, but when that animal leaves, the shelter has an extra space to save another furry friend. Alsup intends to save as many animals as possible. He posts updates on his Facebook page, and he solicits donations for gas money from animal lovers across the country.

The Saint Frances Animal Shelter sang Tony’s praises on their Facebook page: “It’s all true – Tony swooped in at 4am Wednesday morning to pick up our “leftovers” – the dogs with blocky heads, the ones with heartworm. The ones no one else will ever take. And he got them to safety. Not the most conventional evacuation, but surely the one with the most heart.”

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Cajun Navy Arrives in Carolinas To Assist With Florence Recovery

As much of the eastern seaboard braces for Hurricane Florence, the Cajun Navy is prepared to bring food, aid, and shelter to people who need it most. The group of citizen boaters organized a massive expedition into the Carolinas. Many are driving into the storm from Texas and Louisiana.

A Storied History

When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, boaters from Texas and Arkansas showed up to assist with the rescue effort. The Baton Rouge Advocate described the group when it assisted with another flood rescue years later:

“The heroes hailed from the Cajun Navy, the nickname for an impromptu flotilla of volunteers who had no admiral, no uniforms, no military medals awaiting them for acts of valor. It was conscience, not a commanding officer, that summoned them into treacherous currents to carry endangered citizens to higher ground.”

Last year, when Hurricane Harvey struck, Louisianans and Mississippians showed up for their neighbors in Texas. These volunteers coordinated a response effort that pulled people out of flooded homes and delivered them to safety. Though the organization accepts donations, most of the rescuers travel to disaster zones at their own expense.

Hurricane Florence

This time around, the Cajun Navy’s volunteers have more organization and technology than ever before. The group now coordinates with multiple government agencies. Boaters rely on secure radio technology to communicate in places with no cell service. This time around, they’ll even use a drone to survey the landscape and guide boats to stranded people. The Cajun Navy’s Texas captain, Taylor Fontenot, drove 18 hours to be ready for a massive recovery effort. He told KHOU news, “We have government contacts, DOD (Department of Defense), local military that will kind of guide us cause nobody wants to see what happened in Harvey and Katrina happen again.”

Forecasters predict that flooding from Florence could reach far inland. As residents evacuate, the Cajun Navy knows they’ll have their work cut out for them by a historic storm.

Firefighters Remember 9/11 with Memorial Stair Climb

Firefighters from 14 states gathered in Kansas City last weekend to remember the 343 firefighters who died in the September 11th attacks. The Kansas City Memorial Stair Climb matches each participating firefighter to one who lost his life in the terror attacks. In total, 343 firefighters climbed 110 flights of stairs to honor the fallen.

A Meaningful Event

Each participant climbs in memory of a specific first responder who died in the attacks. The 110 floors symbolize the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. Though the fallen firefighters died tragically, these marchers allow each one to symbolically finish his climb. When they reach the top, the climber rings a bell to celebrate the life and sacrifice of the person they climbed for.

ABC Action News captured raw emotion from one participant:

“Kansas City, Kansas, firefighter Craig Maleta said he’s climbing for Michael Fiore, a firefighter with FDNY’s Rescue 5 and four-time MVP in the FDNY Staten Island Basketball League.

‘He was a husband with kids,’ Maleta said. “You know, I have kids of my own, so I think about that every day.’

An Annual Tradition

This unique memorial began in 2011 and has grown exponentially ever since. This year’s event raised $70,000 for the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment, which supports families of fallen first responders. Volunteers set up water stations and post photos of the fallen along the stairwell.

Although the climb is physically challenging, the stair climb is more than just a workout. All the participants wear about 50 pounds of firefighter gear in order to simulate what it was like for first responders rushing into the Twin Towers. They hike the Kansas City Tower Pavilion’s 34 floors 4 times, for a total of 110 flights of stairs. While they trek, they see photos of the victims and heroes who inspired this event.  Every part of the climb inspires participants and onlookers to remember the first responders who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Memorial Stair Climbs

Firefighters, volunteers, and athletes across the country participate in similar events to keep the memory of the fallen. Similar annual memorials take place in Nashville, Denver, Green Bay, Baltimore, and Montgomery.

This year, the New York Knicks hosted the first 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in Madison Square Garden.

Home Depot Workers Build Lemonade Stand for Boy Fighting Cancer

When Dawn Redmon and her son, Christian, learned of a dear friend’s cancer diagnosis, the mother and son knew they had to help his family any way they could. Christian, age 8, wanted to set up a lemonade stand to raise money for Silas, age 4, who is battling stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyorsarcoma.

Dawn Redmon called the local Home Depot store in Apopka, Florida. She hoped that the store would provide discount wood and paint for the lemonade stand, knowing that it goes to help a little boy who’s fighting for his life. Instead, the Home Depot employees did something much better!

An Act of Kindness

When Dawn arrived at the store, she didn’t find the discounted supplies she had arranged for. She found that three Home Depot employees had built her and her son a big, beautiful lemonade stand! Four workers – identified as Loni, Allenea, Solimar, and Crystal – pitched in to make the stand and get it ready to start raising money for Silas.

Dawn took to Facebook to share her gratitude. She wrote, “To know that people still exist and do things like this just makes me so happy!! You all went above and beyond and I cannot thank you enough!!”

Community Effort

Dawn and Christian ran his lemonade stand at a local benefit event to raise money for Silas. Dawn says that her son will keep setting up the lemonade stand to raise money for kids with cancer.

The Home Depot staff’s good deed inspired a wave of giving that has rippled throughout the community. Dawn told CBS News, “Other businesses in the community are now helping with the event,” Redmon said. “I have businesses donating things to our raffle. Their good deed went way beyond the lemonade stand.”

Silas has a long battle ahead of him, but with friends like the Redmons and support from good samaritans, he is not alone.

Food Truck Feeds Stranded Travelers After Crash

When a tanker truck fatally crashed on the 105 Freeway near Los Angeles, drivers sat in gridlock for hours. The fiery crash killed two people and caused a shutdown on the major highway. One of the vehicles stuck in the traffic jam was a food truck belonging to AC Catering. As all the travelers grew frustrated with the long delay, the catering staff realized they could do something to help.

Taking Action

The caterers realized their food truck had everything needed to feed hungry, tired drivers. They opened up the truck right there on the highway. As people walked through stopped traffic with delicious tacos and burritos, they spread the word to other drivers, and a line formed outside the truck.

The AC Catering employees could have marked up their food to exorbitant prices to squeeze cash from desperate drivers. Instead, they sold their food at half price as a way to help the community.

Leadership

The owner of AC Catering, Carlos Chaves, says he feels proud of the decision his employees made. The food truck was en route to LAX Airport, where the staff planned for a busy and profitable day of serving airport employees. Instead, they dished out breakfast burritos to make a terrible traffic jam a bit more bearable. Chaves told L.A. Taco, “People had to eat.”

Do Petitions Actually Work? Check Out These 10 Victories!

We get this question all the time: Do petitions really work? Of course they do! The most successful petitions have clear goals, broad appeal, and strong persuasive reasoning. Anyone can start a petition for issues large or small. Don’t believe us? Check out these big petition victories from StandUnited. You may have even helped make these happen by signing on! If you’re a signer to any of these, know that your voice has made a difference.

NFL Makes Anthem Rule

Tired of politics ruining sports? You’re not alone. Over 20,000 people signed this petition asking the NFL to issue a rule about the national anthem. After many months, the NFL responded. Players are now required to either stand on the field or remain in the locker room while the anthem is played.

U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

President Trump made good on his promise to formally move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to her capital, Jerusalem. For decades, the U.S. maintained an embassy in Tel Aviv so as not to anger the Palestinians. Finally, American supporters of Israel told Washington that they’d had enough: We want the embassy to move. We want to support our allies. Ivanka Trump and Vice President Pence attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new embassy.

Rescue Dog Show

Last year, we petitioned the American Kennel Association to add a rescue category to their annual dog show. While this didn’t happen exactly, in February, the Hallmark Channel launched their First Annual American Rescue Dog Show. The best part? All dog contenders were available for adoption, and many of them found homes after the show!

CHIP Funded

Thanks in part to a big petition effort, the Children’s Health Insurance Program is fully funded! This program has bipartisan support, because someone who stays healthy in childhood is less likely to cost taxpayers later on. 13,812 people signed on to keep CHIP running and help American kids!

Al Franken Resigns

Disgraced Senator Al Franken resigned over instances of sexual misconduct. The Democrat faced calls from supporters asking him to stay in office. However, StandUnited users led the charge to hold Democrats accountable, too.

David Hogg’s Boycotts

When anti-gun activist David Hogg called for mass boycotts of Laura Ingraham’s advertisers, our petitioners wouldn’t give in to bullying. 18,524 people signed on to support Ingraham. Her show is still on the air, still runs advertisements, and now enjoys even stronger ratings.

Right to Try

President Trump signed landmark legislation that will allow terminally ill patients the right to try experimental treatments. This is a huge victory for patients’ rights and for future medical knowledge!

Aaron Persky Recalled

Judge Aaron Persky stunned the nation when he gave Brock Turner, a convicted rapist, only 6 months in jail. Persky said he didn’t want the violent crime to have “a severe impact” on Turner. By denying justice, Persky eventually lost his job: StandUnited users petitioned for his recall, and he lost his reelection.

Last Man Standing Revived

Our audience wants funny, relatable shows on television! Last Man Standing will come back to network television following a successful petition campaign on StandUnited. ABC cancelled the show last year amid rumors that they disliked Tim Allen’s conservative politics. Now, thanks to a grassroots effort, the show will return for another season on FOX.

Academy Ousts Abusers

Following a successful petition campaign, the Motion Picture Academy removed Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Roman Polanski. Those predators no longer have the honor of membership in the Academy.

ICE Agents Use Digital Advocacy to Secure the Border

Border patrol agents are banding together as part of a grassroots campaign to reform their agency. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees want swift and decisive action from the President, and they’re using digital media to accomplish their objectives.

The National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, made up of ICE employees and supporters of tight border security, claims that ICE is mismanaging employees and risking our national security. The group’s president, Chris Crane, called on the administration to “take measures to ensure the safety of our law enforcement officers” and “drain the swamp at ICE.”

Government Bias at the Border

Obama-era officials still hold jobs at ICE, and border agents expressed frustration at these bureaucrats who hinder the agency’s important work. “ICE has become so politicized that it no longer operates as an effective law enforcement agency,” Crane said.

Crane also cited instances of managers directing agents not to wear bullet-proof vests on the job, leaving them vulnerable to criminals with guns. Additionally, local officials sometimes give illegal immigrants advance warning of ICE activities, effectively encouraging them to hide.

This group of agents also alleges that ICE’s internal policies are biased against field agents. If these accusations are true, they indicate great unwillingness by career bureaucrats to properly secure America’s borders.

Advocates Taking Action

America’s border patrol agents are not, however, sitting on the sidelines and waiting for things to improve on their own. They have started their own website – jicreport.com – to allow whistleblowers to report wrongdoing in their offices. The site aims to expose the abuses of power and hold bureaucrats accountable.

On the website, these ICE employees declared their support for President Trump and their respect for standard reporting procedures. The group notes that it is acting outside the normal chain of command because the normal process yielded no results. “Unable to penetrate your staff and communicate with you, we were left with no choice but communicate publicly,” Crane wrote. These agents are taking matters into their own hands, and draining their own swamp.

Grassroots Success Story: Neighbors Harvest 600 Acres for Family of Fallen Farmer

Joe Penny was a devoted father, caring friend, and busy farmer until he tragically lost his life in a motorcycle accident in August. At 65 years old, Joe still worked as a soybean farmer on the same piece of land where he grew up. The Penny family lived on their land outside Decatur, Nebraska, for four generations.

His grieving children, shocked by the sudden loss of their father, had an additional challenge: harvesting this year’s soybean crop. They depend on the harvest for their livelihood, and without Joe, harvesting would prove nearly impossible.

Community Effort

As harvest season grew closer, friends and neighbors got together and decided to help the Pennys as a team. Last Saturday, they started the harvest – much to the surprise and gratitude of the family. The Omaha World-Herald reports, “More than three dozen people turned out to help. Along with the combines, equipment included five auger-wagons and 20 semitrailer trucks.”

Joe’s daughter Jenny says that the group harvested roughly 600 acres of land in one day. That same task would have taken her family weeks. The 2,000 acre farm still needs more work, and the volunteers plan to keep showing up until they complete the harvest.

One of the volunteer farmers says, of his late friend Joe, “He would have been there for us.” With a willingness to pitch in, a few combines, and some trucks, these people made world of difference for the Pennys.

Tech Companies Use Petitions to Cut Red Tape

Every startup faces challenges, particularly with regulation and bureaucracy. Airbnb constantly fights for permission for private citizens to rent their own homes, as the hotel industry fights to ban this (literal) cottage industry. Netflix is fighting for net neutrality, so that powerful internet companies cannot slow down its videos.

Uber Vs. Bureaucracy

Harvard Business School noticed that the most successful startups use a tool that StandUnited knows well: online grassroots petitions. When taxi unions and government regulators tried to ban Uber in London, 850,000 people signed a petition to allow the rideshare service. The city saw the groundswell of support and agreed to allow Uber to operate. Similar situations have played out in cities around the world, with Uber usually winning when the grassroots shows its strength in numbers.

Small Startups

It’s not only the huge, innovative companies making waves with online petitions. Sometimes, an individual can change the law and pave the way for a new small business. Shelley Erickson lives in Minnesota and loves baking. However, state law made it illegal for her to sell her baked goods. Erickson started online petitions to change the law, even though no state lawmaker had taken up the issue. Her petitions garnered over 2,000 signatures, which was enough to get the lawmakers’ attention. A state legislator sponsored a bill to allow home bakers to sell their homemade treats. The bill passed, and Shelley’s kitchen – as well as many others – are now open for business.

You can be the next success story. Click here to start your petition in minutes!

Watch These Soldiers Pull Off a Special Gender Reveal

Earlier this year, Britt Harris told her husband the exciting news: She was pregnant! The father-to-be, U.S. Army Spc. Chris Harris, felt overjoyed. He had just deployed to Afghanistan a few weeks prior. Tragically, on August 2nd, Chris Harris gave the ultimate sacrifice. A suicide bomber detonated, killing the young soldier, and turning life upside-down for Britt.

Now a young widow, she faced the future of bringing a child into the world without her late husband by her side.

Fellow Soldiers Step Up

Chris’ fellow soldiers surrounded Britt with love and support. She would have the baby as a widow, but she wouldn’t go through her pregnancy alone. The 82nd Airborne Division, still deployed overseas, helped Britt pull off an amazing gender reveal.

With the soldiers’ help, Britt was able to mail confetti poppers to their military base overseas. The video below shows the soldiers making the big announcement, and celebrating the news!

The soldiers’ excitement over the new baby went viral, and warmed the hearts of military families and civilians alike. Britt told USA Today about how the soldiers rallied around her at this difficult time: “They have been phenomenal and done everything they can to watch over me even from a distance.” She says that, despite the trauma of losing her husband, she and the baby are both healthy. Britt looks forward to welcoming the baby in March of 2018.

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