Charity launches new Down Syndrome doll to help children

Billy’s Dolls of Comfort say that while the dolls are “a comfort not a cure”, they claim they have been proven to help people with a range of conditions, particularly those with Alzheimer’s.

Winnie O’Neill founded the organisation about 18 months ago and she explained how the toys make a big difference.Winnie, who lives in Carbury in Co Kildare, told “My daughter works in a nursing home and she was telling me that many of the Alzheimer’s patients like dolls, I was intrigued by this so I decided to collect some to give to nursing homes.

“When I was first asking people to donate they thought I was mad, they’d never heard of doll therapy.  I brought any that needed restoration to a knitting lady who gives them fabulous makeovers and any, that aren’t suitable for elderly patients, are given in the Christmas shoebox appeal to children in places like Haiti and the Philippines.”It’s all about the kids and older people.

“It was only after I gave it that I found out it’s not just people with Alzheimer’s the dolls help but they provide comfort to all sorts of people.”We also deliver dolls to autistic children in schools.

“We’ve been told that these dolls can really help calm older people who might be distressed, we got a call a few weeks ago about a woman with Alzheimer’s who was crying over the death of her son and when we gave her a boy doll that was wrapped up, seemingly that did the trick and helped her.”Billy’s Dolls of Comforts has grown so much over the past year and a half that Winne now runs it with business partner Jennifer Brady and three volunteers.

This week Winnie (54) provided her first doll that is designed to resemble someone with Down Syndrome, which she has named Noah.She said: “The reason we got the Noah doll was because we got a call from a nursing home in Athlone  saying there was a client there who was very upset. When we got there it turned out her son has Down Syndrome and she was missing him but we didn’t have a doll with Down Syndrome so we went looking for one online and we tracked some down to a company in Germany.

“We ordered them and they took a few weeks to come and there was a lot of delays and we couldn’t understand why but we’re going to be giving it to the woman now.”If she bonds with Noah and wants to keep him we’ll have to charge, it’ll be between €80 and €100. We’ve never charged before, everything we do is completely free but this doll is specialised and it cost us to order him.

“If other people want one we can get them for them too, it’s no problem.”I’ve never seen a Down Syndrome doll before but we’ve been led to believe that children with Down Syndrome gel quicker with them than with other dolls.”

They receive no funding and rely on donations and Winnie says that the organisation is “getting bigger than her” and she would love to receive sponsorship.For more information or to find out about donate please visit their Facebook page

Random Customer Surprises Popeyes Employee by Paying for Her Nursing School Education

One Popeyes employee in Kansas City received the surprise of her life when a customer raised $14,000 for her to attend nursing school and pursue her dreams.

Donald Carter, a retired Kansas City cop, explains that he ordered some fried chicken at the drive-thru from employee Shajuana Mays and noted the “spark” of determination from the “polite and respectful” young woman.

“As I messily crunch on some really untasty fried chicken, I get this idea,” Carter said. “What if I got some friends together and we put this girl through school to get her CNA license?”

That’s exactly what he did. Carter set up a GoFundMe page and over the course of a little over a week, raised $14,300, about ten times the amount it costs to take a CNA Course, pay for taking the test, and get a license. The extra funds could help her become an RN, which requires more education and will eventually pay a higher salary.

“You kind people who are reading this helped it, made it happen,” Donald said on the GoFundMe page. “You are still making it happen. You are the ones who are changing the life of one young lady and the lives of others and your own life in the process. You are changing the world — your world.”

Watch the video of Mays’ reaction below:

Teens Credited with Helping Save Federal Judge

DUNMORE — A federal judge from Lackawanna County is in fair condition in the hospital after being rescued from the woods

Judge Edwin Kosik was missing for almost two days when two teenagers spotted his car in the woods in Dunmore.

The Dunmore Reservoir is a popular place for hiking. A road near the reservoir leads to woods and a network of ATV trails.

These young men say it’s not a place for regular cars and that’s what struck them as odd when they saw an SUV stuck on a log in the woods. Little did they know it belonged to the missing federal judge.

Deep in the woods in Dunmore, just after dark, a story had an unexpected but happy ending: an ambulance took 92-year-old Federal Judge Edwin Kosik to be checked out.

Hospital officials say the judge is in fair condition after likely spending two days lost in those woods. Judge Kosik went missing Tuesday night.

That unexpected ending has two unlikely heroes. Joe Delvecchio, 18, and Alec Yanisko, 15, were in the right place at the right time Thursday evening.

“We’re very thankful to these two young men that they saw this vehicle, happened to be in this area, fortunately,” said U.S. Marshal Martin Pane.

The students at Dunmore High School were out riding an ATV near the Dunmore reservoir nature trail off Tigue Street.

They found an SUV about a quarter mile from the nearest road stuck on a log with two smashed windows. The boys reached inside and found a Sam’s Club card with the name Edwin Kosik on it.

“We went to type it in online to see if we knew them or anything like that and we seen all the attention it had,” said Joe Delvecchio.

The boys knew then that the judge was in trouble. They went home, talked to their parents first, and then called police. They led officers to the secluded spot in the woods.

“It’s more like for ATVs,” said Alec Yanisko. “It was on a log, and there was no way of getting it off, like, by himself.”

Police found Judge Kosik not far from his SUV lying on the ground but OK. The change in weather 24 hours later has the boys thinking that their timing was just right.

“Just glad that he’s alive,” said Alec.

“We’re glad he’s OK, glad that we could help out,” added Joe.

The boys did not see Judge Kosik’s rescue but they told us that when he is fully recovered, they hope to meet him.

Human Conditions Improving at a Remarkable Rate

On a number of previous occasions, I have written about the extent of human progress around the world, but the remarkable speed of improvements in the state of humanity should not go unnoticed. To that end, I have looked at some of the most important indicators of human wellbeing, especially in the poor countries, over the last decade (or, when the latest data is not available, ten years prior to the last data point). The results are encouraging and ought to give us reason for 7:00 am

3.14.17 7:00 am

3.07.17 8:50 GDP per capita in real 2010 dollars (2005-2015)
Global: $8,858 → $10,194 or a 15.1 percent Africa (SSA): $1,363 → $1,660 or a 21.8 percent increase
India: $982 → $1,751 or a 78.3 percent increase
China: $2,738 → $6,498 or a 137.3 percent increase
2. Infant mortality (i.e., children under age of 1) per 1,000 live births (2005-2015)
Global: 44.3 → 31.7 or a 28.4 percent decline
SSA: 80 → 56.4 or a 29.5 percent decline
India: 55.8 → 37.9 or a 32.1 percent decline
China: 20.3 → 9.2 or a 54.7 percent decline
3. Life expectancy (2004-2014)
Global: 69 → 71.5 or a 3.6 percent increase
SSA: 52 → 58.6 or a 12.7 percent increase
India: 64.2 → 68 or a 5.9 percent increase
China: 73.4 → 75.8 or a 3.3 percent increase
4. Depth of the food deficit, kilocalories per person per day (2006-2016)*
Global: 129 → 88.4 or a 31.5 percent decline

Beloved family cat Freddie returned to Auckland family 18 months after going missing

Video will play inPlay nowDon’t auto playNever auto playAn Auckland family are overjoyed their beloved family cat Freddie has been returned to them after going missing 18 months ago. Lisa Baillie said Freddie spent the last two weeks hanging around the Animates store at St Lukes, so staff took him to the nearby vet to have his microchip scanned. “I just got a call out of the blue from Pet Doctors. ‘Did you have a cat called Freddie? We’ve found him,'” Baillie said. “I think I screamed. I was at work, I just yelled when they said we’ve got a cat called Freddie, I was just in shock.” Jack Baillie cuddles Freddie the cat, who has returned to his family 18 months after going missing. Photo / Supplied Freddie had disappeared “basically off the face of the earth” from their home in September 2015. Baillie was unsure why he went missing but thought it might have been because the house was on the market and Freddie had been disrupted by all the open homes and strangers coming through the house. She reported him missing and put out fliers in her neighbourhood, but five weeks later had to move to a different area. “The kids chose him and he was only two, they were just devastated,” she said. Though the kids had talked about Freddie every week since he went missing, Baillie had given up hope on ever seeing him again, which was why the call from the vet last Thursday was such a surprise. Continued below.Related ContentVideoCat returns home after 18 months Loyalty low in 30pc of bank customers My car accident left me terrified of driving – so I asked racing legend Greg Murphy for help Freddie has made himself at home in his family’s new house. Photo / Supplied Freddie appeared to be well-fed and in good health, so Baillie suspects someone may have taken him in and looked after him, though questions why they did not take him in to see if he had a microchip. She picked up her daughter, Sophie, from school and got Freddie from the vet, then surprised her son, Jack, when he came home for the day. A video Baillie took shows Jack, 8, coming home from school and discovering Freddie asleep on a bed in the house, then gently wrapping his arms around the cat and cuddling him. “Jack, you can see in his face, he just couldn’t believe it. They’ve just been doting over him ever since.” Baillie said Freddie seemed happy as ever, “totally affectionate”, and appeared to be enjoying spending time around the kids. Freddie is happy to be back with his family, Lisa Baillie says. Photo / Supplied “We’ve just been on a high ever since Thursday night.” Baillie wanted to thank the Animates staff for getting Freddie scanned, and also whoever cared for Freddie over the past year and a half. – NZ Herald

Israeli Agriculture Ministry Unveils Plan to Use Country’s $5 Billion of Food Waste to Feed the Needy

In Israel, about 18 billion shekels ($5 billion) of food is wasted each year, which is the equivalent of 1.6 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. The estimate—calculated during a study conducted last year by the non-profit food rescue organization Leket Israel in conjunction with the BDO consulting group—includes food lost at all stages of production and distribution, from the farm to food retailers’ shelves to consumers’ homes. For comparison, about 33% of domestically produced food is wasted around the world.

As a solution, the Jewish state’s Agriculture Ministry has developed a program to support the harvesting of produce that farmers do not typically collect due to low financial turnaround. The ministry will then distribute these fruits and vegetables to families in need. Another component of the plan calls for the agricultural industry to use packaging that will increase the shelf life of fresh produce and sell cosmetically-flawed but safe-to-eat items at a lower price. A consumer education campaign is also in the works.

According to Leket and BDO’s projections, the ministry’s proposed program could help reduce Israel’s food waste by half if consumers also use up leftover food from processing plants, restaurants, and hotels and food on the cusp of expiration that would otherwise be thrown out by retailers before being sold.

“Food loss is a substantial problem not only [elsewhere] in the world but also in Israel,” Uri Tzuk-Bar, the deputy director general for research, economics and strategy at the Agriculture Ministry, told Haaretz. Around 18 percent of the Israeli population faces moderate to severe food insecurity, he added.

With Israel’s population expected to increase by 1.5 million over the next ten years, the ministry’s plan is significant toward fighting food waste and hunger as the country works to support its growing citizenry.

Zoe Miller is Tablet’s editorial intern. Follow her on Twitter here.