The Upbeat Everyday Acts
  • Sara McKinney plays the trombone. (Cindy Hepner/South Jersey Times)Sara McKinney plays the trombone. (Cindy Hepner/South Jersey Times)

    Sara McKinney was born without hands, but that hasn't stopped the fifth-grade musician from tackling life's challenges.

    An NJ.com profile explains that Sara recently earned a seat in the South Jersey Elementary Honors Band, which is made up of the eight counties in southern New Jersey.

    Her music teacher, Gary Schneider, told NJ.com that Sara is one of the best trombone players he has ever taught.

    "Sara’s just another trombone player—she doesn’t have limitations. We really thought the trombone would be best and would not hold her back from anything,” Schneider explained to NJ.com.

    Sara told NJ.com that she wanted to play an instrument "from the first day I had music."

    Learning to play the trombone with her prosthetics has been a challenge for the 10-year-old, reports NJ.com.

    “It’s been difficult, but I always manage to find a way,” Sara explained. “I’ve also been working on trying to face my fears with crowds.”

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  • N.J. police chief runs 100 miles to help Sandy victims

    Frank Del Vecchio (left) trains for his run (photo: Run For Hope Foundation)Frank Del Vecchio (left) trains for his run. (Run for Hope Foundation)

    The police chief in Fairview, N.J., is running 100 miles to help raise money for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

    Frank Del Vecchio began his run on Thursday, the New York Daily News reports. If all goes according to plan, he should finish the 100-mile jaunt by Friday. He's been training since Jan. 2.

    Del Vecchio told the Daily News that his run was inspired by what people have had to deal with in the aftermath of Sandy. "What they’ve endured for six months, I can endure for them in a 100-mile run," Del Vecchio said.

    So far, according to the Daily News, Del Vecchio has raised about $20,000. He expects that figure to rise while he runs. He told the paper he plans to run five-mile stretches followed by one-mile walks. While walking, he'll eat peanut butter sandwiches.

    Sandy, which struck the East Coast in October 2012, killed dozens of people and caused billions of dollars in property damage.

    This isn't the first time Del Vecchio has gone on an epic run to raise money. According to the Run

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  • Dog reunited with owner (Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office)

    A dog found guarding a deceased body on Monday among the rubble of tornado-ravaged Moore, Okla., has been reunited with its owner.

    When a deputy from the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office found the dog, now known as Susie, guarding a body inside a house, he assumed she was protecting her owner. He posted a photo of the loyal pet on Twitter and Facebook with the caption, "Scared, but this little pup survived."

    The image and the story—reported on Yahoo News—quickly spread across the Web. The sheriff’s office then noted that the animal had been taken to a shelter and that the deputy who found her wanted to adopt her.

    That’s when Sheila Collins popped up.

    Collins commented on the Facebook page: “Please don't adopt Susie Collins. She is my brother Curtis' dog and he is alive and the only reason he is not well is that he is looking for Susie.”

    It turns out the 12-year-old schipperke-border collie mix still had a home.

    As the sheriff's office explained in a statement, “The deputy who found

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  • James Bryan and his dog Handover (photo via Facebook)James Bryan and Handover (photo on Facebook)

    A dog stolen from a homeless man has been found and returned after a Facebook campaign helped track down the pooch.

    The pit bull, Handover, was stolen from James Bryan on May 8 in Hudson, Fla. Bryan had been sleeping at the time of the theft.

    "Handover is my best friend. He's my heart and soul," Bryan told ABC Action News last week after the theft. “If anybody sees him, please bring him home.”

    Friends of Bryan set up a Facebook page asking for help and, once word spread, reward money was raised. And then, the good news: Handover was found and returned. According to the Facebook page, the couple that returned him did not accept the $1,000 reward. Instead, they asked that the money be used to help Bryan and his best friend.

    The dog was taken to a vet for a checkup (he's fine), and a microchip was implanted in case he goes missing.

    Handover was a gift from Bryan's late wife. ABC Action News explained that when Bryan's wife presented him with the dog and asked what he would name him, an

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  • Fighting Gun Violence with Style

    "I grew up in a family that embodied the spirit that you had a responsibility to repair the world. And so I jumped, I walked, I ran to every 5K, everything, and that was how we grew up. And Jewelry for a Cause is an extension of that."

    Jewelry for a Cause is a company that creates innovative fundraising tools in the form of jewelry for not-for-profit organizations. Jessica Mindich, a mother of two, started the company five years ago in her Connecticut home. "I was a mom that had been a lawyer looking to go back to work and looking around at a community that was still doing the same fundraising methods and people were bored of them."

    Mindich creates affordable jewelry for different causes, with a portion of the proceeds going to charities around the world to help promote awareness for issues such as breast cancer, Alzheimer's and drinking water. "There isn't anything that we do that doesn't give back to a cause," Mindich says of her creations. "People were excited to wear what they

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