Sure, 2017 was filled with a lot of events that weren't necessarily positive and heartfelt, but the news wasn't all bad! From a neighborhood rallying around a World War II veteran to a groom on his wedding day saving a drowning boy, these stories will warm you heart just in time for the holidays.
Iowa boy builds tiny house in his backyard
Tiny homes are all the rage in 2017 with people all over the world jumping on the bandwagon of these portable and adorable houses. Some people even build their own from the ground up, including 12-year-old Luke Thill.
"I was getting really bored during the summer and I got really fascinated with tiny houses," Luke says in a YouTube video documenting his project. "I decided if I worked towards it and made enough money from cutting lawns that I would start to build a tiny house."
With his dad's assistance, Luke completed the 89-square-foot home in just under a year and a half. The house is 10 feet long and 5 1/2 feet wide and cost about $1,500.
He liked building his "starter home" so much that he plans to build a larger tiny home in the future. Luke says he hopes to live in a tiny house full-time in a few years. For now, however, he retreats to his backyard home a few nights a week, either to do homework or just to get some space from his twin brother.
This WWII vet loves to walk, but he can't go far
Few people enjoy a good stroll quite like 95-year-old Harvey Djerf. The World War II veteran loves to walk around his neighborhood so much that he often saunters around twice a day!
However at his age, walking for long periods of time isn't easy. Knowing this, someone left a chair outside for him one day. “People saw me stopping and catching my breath,” he tells KARE11. “They figured that Harvey maybe needs a place to rest.”
That kindness proved contagious. One day, another resident put out a chair. And then, another. Today, the neighborhood is speckled with chairs — Harvey chairs.
Groom saves drowning boy on wedding day
One of the most important events on a couple's wedding day is taking photos to memorialize that special day. The bride and groom in their beautiful gown and suit posing in a romantic setting. For one couple, that photo shoot took an unexpected turn.
Clayton and Brittany Cook were standing next to a river when Clayton noticed a young boy had fallen into the river and was struggling to keep his head above water.
Without hesitation, Clayton jumped into the river and saved the boy.
Remember that kid who invented a way to clean up ocean plastic? He's back, and it's happening
Boyan Slat was just a regular Dutch high-school student when he went on a diving trip to Greece. Once underwater, he was surrounded by plastic waste. “There were more plastic bags than fish,” he told MNN a few years back. "That was the moment I realized it was a huge issue and that environmental issues are really the biggest problems my generation will face."
He learned that there were a few cleanup ideas out there, but most of them relied on using nets to filter the plastic out of the water. Those nets also scooped up a lot of fish, turtles and other sea life, and weren't practical. So he worked on developing his own solution.
He's set to launch his garbage-collecting booms in 2018, which work via massive floating booms that sit on top of the water and act like a mini-coastline. Just like beaches collect our plastic waste, the boom can passively gather plastic waste and pull it to its center. And about once a month or so, a boat will swing by to collect the garbage.
Burger King's anti-bullying ad is an eye-opener
This last one isn't just individual but a group making a difference. Burger King is known for its flame-broiled Whopper and its slightly creepy, plastic-headed monarch of a mascot, but now it's also known for taking a stand against bullying.
In October during National Bullying Prevention Month, the fast-food chain released a PSA called "Bullying Jr." that shows a staged bullying incident in a Los Angeles Burger King.
As a high school student is bullied by some other teens, real customers are shown simply watching — or trying not to watch — as the events unfold in front of them. The twist on the incident is that many of these customers received a "bullied" Whopper Jr. with their order, burgers that had been smashed into something that looks more like a deconstructed burger than a normal fast-food meal.
The video also addresses the issue of the bystander effect, a behavior exhibited by people when they see someone else in trouble but choose to do nothing about it, especially when there are other people around. But in the end, a few bystanders do the right thing. Take a look.
Want more feel-good stories? Make sure to check out MNN's Responsible Living page!