This year has been bursting with story after story of Christmas kindness. When members of God’s creation mirror him in the act of giving generous blessings, it’s truly a beautiful thing!
To Chris Jenkins, driving a school bus for Lake Highlands Elementary School in Texas isn’t just a job, it’s a ministry.
“I’m not at a job, I’m on a mission from God,” he shared with NBC5 in a statement about an incredible way he chose to be a blessing to the children he takes to and from school each day.
At first, Jenkins had considered hosting a gift exchange on the last bus ride before Christmas break, but his wife, Shaneqia, suggested that every child might not be able to afford a gift.
“No hesitation,” she said, describing her generous husband to the news outlet. “He’s always wanting to do something for the kids, he’s been talking about it for months.”
That’s when the two of them hatched a plan to simply give each child a great gift instead.
So, for the next several weeks, Jenkins stashed a little bit from each paycheck and built up a gift list as he casually asked each kid what they had on their hearts for a Christmas gift. “We talked about the things that they would want and I made a mental note of it and wrote it down,” Jenkins revealed.
And, just as he’d hoped, the last ride before the students’ holiday break was an incredible one as they boarded the bus to find it jam-packed with gifts.
This is Curtis Jenkins, a bus driver for our school. He asked every kid on the bus what they wanted for Christmas and…
“He is the most amazing bus driver,” said Katrina Clift, the mother of one student on Jenkins’ bus. “He’s always good to [her son] and all the kids on the bus.”
Clift also shared with NBC5 that Jenkins had even blessed her family with a turkey this past Thanksgiving.
“It literally made me cry. I hung up the phone with him, I went over to my husband and I put my head on his chest and I just cried,” Clift said of this amazing man. “It makes me feel like I belong and I mean something to this community, especially to the people who love my children.”
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Former Green Beret Sentenced To A Night In Jail, But What The Judge Does Next Will Blow You Away
Judge Lou Olivera doesn’t have an easy job.
Sure, it’s great to be the one to hand down justice to an unrepentant criminal or someone who poses a serious danger to society. Still, judges have hearts like anyone else and there are just as many instances where a judge like Olivera is forced to sentence someone they truly wish they could help.
Olivera, district court judge over the Veterans Treatment Court in Cumberland County, North Carolina, showed the world his kind heart after he was forced to sentence former Green Beret Joe Serna for probation violation.
As a Gulf War veteran, Olivera is no stranger to the life-altering experience of combat. He’s seen plenty, placing him in a unique position to serve both his community and his fellow servicemen as a judge.
When Serna’s case came before him, Olivera was deeply moved.
Serna, a three-tour veteran of the war in Afghanistan and two-time Purple Heart recipient, is one of the innumerable veterans who find themselves suffering from PTSD and unable to cope back home.
For many veterans like Serna, alcohol or drugs seem to be waiting with open arms, offering false comfort and sending them on a downward spiral of self-destruction. The Veterans Treatment Court exists to serve veterans fighting this kind of battle, and it became Judge Olivera’s mission to make a difference in Serna’s life.
Serna was arrested for drunk driving a few years before this court date. One condition of his probation was that he was strictly prohibited from drinking alcohol. But when Serna lied about a recent urine test, Olivera couldn’t just let it slide.
“I gave Joe a night in jail because he had to be held accountable,” Olivera recounted to CBS.
Later on, when Serna entered his cell for the night, terrible memories came flooding back into his mind, memories of the event that sparked his PTSD.
“When I walked into the jail cell, and they closed the door behind me, I started feeling this anxiety,” Serna said. “It came back—a flashback.”
As an Army Sargent First Class, Serna survived an IED and a suicide bomber during his time in Afghanistan, but that wasn’t the event that shook him. Instead, it was a simple truck ride with three other men in his company that proved to be the most horrific event of his life.
“We were following the creek and the road gave way,” Serna recalled, tearfully, “And the vehicle went into the creek.”
As the water began rising in the truck, Serna found himself stuck and totally unable to move. The water rose up to his chin before finally subsiding and, tragically, he was the only one to leave that truck alive. Because of this incident, Serna not only suffers from PTSD, but extreme claustrophobia.
Judge Olivera, however, wasn’t finished with Serna. “I knew what Joe was going through and I knew Joe’s history. And he had to be held accountable,” Olivera said, “but I just felt I had to go with him. I felt I had to go with him.”
Within a few minutes of being locked up, Serna received the surprise of a lifetime when Judge Olivera walked through the door to join him for the night.
“We talked about our families,” Serna said, smiling. “The walls didn’t exist anymore. He brought me back to North Carolina from being in a truck in Afghanistan.”
“He is a judge, but that night, he was my battle buddy,” Serna said. “He knew what I was going through. As a warrior, he connected.”
And, just like that, Olivera, who saw his brother-in-arms struggling, lifted him up and carried him through the night, and hopefully sparked a change leading to a brighter future for Serna.
WATCH: A Group of Strangers Work Together to Save Puppies From Pet Store Inferno
The incredible lengths even a stranger off the street will go to in order to save a life, even when their efforts may put their own lives at risk, never cease to amaze.
When a fire broke out at Puppy Love, a pet store in Danbury, Connecticut, 86 terrified puppies were trapped in the blaze.
According to San Antonio Express-News, the call came in around 9 pm that the building had caught fire, and firefighters arrived on the scene in just two minutes. A second alarm was called in right away, but the firefighters knew they had to act quickly to rescue the animals inside.
“Chief, we gotta get the animals out,” one firefighter was overheard saying.
That’s when concerned members of the Danbury community started coming out of the woodwork to help rescue the howling dogs inside Puppy Love.
Civilians stopped their cars in the street, diners at neighboring restaurants got up from their seats, and even the manager of a nearby bar ran to the scene to break into the building and start pulling out crates containing the helpless, whimpering pups.
Even with brave citizens boldly smashing windows to rescue dogs in their crates, the sheer volume of animals inside forced them to come up with another plan.
With the heaviest flames still at the back of the building, the incredible crew of firefighters and civilians quickly formed a “human chain” to pull the dogs out of the building, Deputy Fire Chief Steve Williams said.
Thanks to their bravery, all 86 dogs and puppies were safely evacuated from the building and no injuries to animal or human were reported.
Sean Silverman, who co-owns Puppy Love with his wife, Nancy, revealed that the fire originated at a pole barn behind the store owned by a local utility company.
The Silvermans made their immense gratitude to the community who rallied behind them known in a recent Facebook post.
“We want to thank all of the Danbury Fire Department, City of Danbury Police Department, many veterinarian staff of Noah’s Ark Animal Hospital and South Salem Animal Hospital, staff of Stanziato’s Wood Fired Pizza and the whole community of Danbury and beyond for reaching out and helping the Puppy Love family!”
“All of our puppies are safe, warm and happily ate an extra dinner tonight,” they continued. “Stanziatos was kind enough to open their doors to us so our puppies have temporary housing while our store can be cleaned and be put back to order.”
This fire could have been a heartrending tragedy, but thank goodness for the brave firefighters and civilians who risked their own lives to give this story a happy ending.
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