December 10, 2017

Every year, the pile of toys Nolan Adams, 11, brings to Sanford Children's Hospital in South Dakota grows.

While driving with his family to visit his grandmother four years ago, Adams heard a radio ad for the hospital. He asked his parents, Trisha and Jason, how many toys the kids there received during the holidays, and when they told him "not really as much as you," he got an idea. The family stopped and bought two presents — a toy truck and a stuffed animal — and dropped them off at the hospital, the beginning of a new family tradition.

Through his Nolan's Project, Adams raises money to buy gifts for the patients, delivering them in December. After his first small donation, Adams came back with 50 gifts, and the next year, 75 gifts. This year, he made his biggest donation yet, for 176 kids. "I want them to forget about what's gonna happen next and I just want them to forget about all that and live a normal happy life," Adams told KSFY. Last week, Adams presented some of the gifts to two patients who will be in the hospital through the holidays and one of their siblings, and his family said they'll support him doing this indefinitely. "It's really heartwarming and it makes me feel good about myself, and me and my grandma say, 'It's better to give than receive,'" Adams said. Catherine Garcia

December 8, 2017

Barry Farmer wanted to find a way to pay back his grandmother for raising him, and in doing so, changed the lives of three children.

At 21, the Alexandria, Virginia, man became a foster father, and now, nearly a decade later, he's a single dad to three sons. "If you would have told me 10 years ago that this would happen, I wouldn't believe you," Farmer told WTVR. "I wished to be a father, but it wasn't going to be this soon." Farmer was raised by his grandmother in kinship care, and nine years ago, wanted to pay the kindness she showed him forward, and became a foster father to Jaxon, 7. Right off the bat, Jaxon started calling him "Dad," and after a year, it was official — Farmer adopted him, an "unforgettable" moment.

He wanted to give Jaxon a sibling, so in 2013, Farmer adopted Xavier, and in 2016, Jeremiah, who needed respite care, joined the family. "There's no reason to be afraid of our foster children who are waiting to be adopted," Farmer said. "All they need is some security, some love, some attention, stability." Like babies, older children also have several firsts, from the first day of school to the first time riding a bike. "Fatherhood has brought me lots of joy," Farmer said. "I can't imagine my sons not being with me." He said the family does get some stares — he's black, and his sons are white — but "skin does not separate us," Farmer told WTVR. "It does not define our family." Catherine Garcia

December 7, 2017

A homeless man is being hailed as a hero after saving two small children from a Las Vegas fire. Anival Angulo was walking down a quiet backstreet when he saw smoke rising from an apartment building and heard children screaming for help. Angulo, 36, rushed toward the fire, jumped over a locked gate, and used his strength to pry a dead bolt–locked security door open. A 3-year-old girl rushed out and wrapped her arms around Angulo. After ensuring her safety, Angulo doubled back to pull her baby brother away from the burning apartment. "I just knew I had to get them out," Angulo said. Christina Colizza

December 6, 2017

Troy Rogers was "completely taken by surprise" when his students gave him an adorable gift just in time for the holidays: An 8-week-old golden retriever puppy.

Rogers, who teaches history at Clements High School in Athens, Alabama, had shared with his students that his blind 11-year-old dog, Chip, had disappeared from his house. Knowing how much he loved Chip, the senior class raised $700 to buy Rogers and his wife a puppy. "Coach Rogers doesn't have children so his dog was like his child," student Haleigh Moss told ABC News. "He treats us like we're his own children and he does so much for us. We just wanted to do something great for him in return."

Last month, a colleague asked Rogers if he'd come look at something in her classroom, and he was stunned to open the door and see his students, wife, and the new puppy waiting for him inside. He asked the students if they would give the puppy her name, and they chose Clementine, in honor of the school mascot. Rogers, who plans on making a donation of $700 to the senior class fund, told ABC News he's proud of his students. "I think a lot of people don't give teenagers the credit they deserve for the good hearts and kindness they have," he said. "I'm never surprised by how good they are." Catherine Garcia

December 5, 2017

Daniel Helsel has had a lot of memorable birthdays in the backs of ambulances.

His mother called an ambulance when she was in labor with him 42 years ago, Helsel told The Washington Post on Monday, but they weren't fast enough and he was born in the back of the vehicle, delivered by a medic working his first shift. Helsel has worked for the Prince George's County Fire Department for 17 years, but Monday was the first time he ever worked on his birthday, and he says it was "fate" that brought him to the apartment of a woman in labor who called for assistance getting to the hospital.

Helsel and his partner got the call at 12:17 a.m., raced to the woman's place, and got her in the ambulance, but her healthy baby girl had other plans; instead of being born at Prince George's Hospital Center, she made her debut in the ambulance. Mark Brady, spokesman for the fire department, said at least 24 babies are born in county ambulances every year, but Helsel's déjà vu birthday delivery was "a remarkable and amazing coincidence." Catherine Garcia

December 5, 2017

Over five months, Spencer Sleyon and Rosalind "Roz" Guttman played 324 Words With Friends matches, forming a tight bond along the way.

Sleyon, 22, of Harlem and Guttman, 81, of West Palm Beach were randomly matched up about a year ago, and "sometimes we'd speak about personal things, but nothing extra personal," Sleyon told The Root. "Politics, the election, hurricanes." As they became better friends, Sleyon started asking Guttman for advice, including whether he should leave his hometown in Maryland for New York City, where he wanted to become a music producer. Guttman, Sleyon said, told him to "always reach for the stars."

Sleyon stopped playing when life got "too hectic," but he was still fond of Guttman, telling his friend's mother all about Guttman when she asked him about his good friends. She urged Sleyon to meet Guttman face to face, and last week, Sleyon hopped on a plane and flew to Florida, where they had lunch and Guttman gave him a tour of her neighborhood. "It was a cool experience," he told The Root. Catherine Garcia

December 4, 2017
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

Kerry Magro is the Santa Claus he wishes he could have met as a child.

Magro, 29, has autism, and it was hard for him to visit Santa at the mall when he was a kid. "I dealt with a lot of sensory challenges, so giant malls were never really an option for me," he told HuffPost. Now an author, activist, and motivational speaker, Magro runs a nonprofit called KFM Making a Difference. For the past three Decembers, Magro has donned a Santa suit and met with kids who need to have a "sensory friendly" visit with St. Nick.

Parents sign their kids up for 30-minute sessions, with eight children allowed at a time. The lights and music are turned down, and there are occupational, speech, and physical therapists on hand to help any kids who might need extra support. Since starting the program three years ago, Magro estimates he's worked with 500 kids with everything from autism to hyperactivity disorder, and he's doing it again Dec. 9 and 10 in Jersey City, New Jersey. "We don't want them to feel rushed," he said. "We don't want them to feel overloaded. We just want to make it a labor of love." Catherine Garcia

November 30, 2017

An old family blanket changed Loren Krytzer's life. After losing his leg in a near-fatal accident, the 53-year-old former carpenter from California was jobless, and had been living off disability checks. But then he saw a Navajo blanket, nearly identical to the one his grandmother had passed down to him, on an episode of Antiques Roadshow. It was valued at around $500,000. So Krytzer took his blanket, which had been sitting in his closet for years, to an auction house. He'd hoped to make enough money to buy a house, but when the heirloom sold for $1.5 million, he was shocked. The sale "gave me a new lease on life," Krytzer told CNBC. He has since bought two homes and married his longtime girlfriend. Christina Colizza

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