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october sparklers: those who choose to shine

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Sparklers is a monthly series that highlights people, groups and institutions who have recently spread light in the world. Every day, people choose to shine in ways large and small. These moments of grace and generosity don’t always get reported on, and they can be quickly forgotten. So, we’re sharing some of their stories. Because sometimes good news and kindness are the sweetest luxuries of all.

Here are some of the heartwarming and inspirational stories that caught our eye this month:

1. Adam Keys is an Army combat veteran, who lost three of his limbs from a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan in 2010.  In the days that followed Keys was given only a 1% chance of survival, but managed to persevere through more than 100 surgeries. After years of therapy and recovery, Keys set his sights on training for a 19,000-foot trek up the highest mountain in Africa – Kilimanjaro. After training for 6 months, Keys climbed the mountain in 6 days.  When he reached the top, the Purple Heart recipient left his medal at the summit to recognize servicemen and women around the world, as well as the soldiers who lost their lives during the explosion next to him. “If you had that obstacle in front of you, you can get over it. And I’m hoping to show that you can do it, but it does take a lot of work,” the veteran says. Key has started the foundation “One Step Forward” to support wounded veterans in need. And he’ll continue to push the limits and promote awareness with his next big fitness test: the New York City Marathon on November 4.

2. Chopard is officially the first luxury jewelry brand to have 100% traceable and sustainable gold for all of their jewelry and watches. As a family-run business, sustainability has always been a core value at Chopard: for years, the company has produced a Green Carpet Collection featuring haute joaillerie pieces that are sourced, designed and crafted according to the highest ethical standards. Now these principles will be applied brand-wide. The company will continue to look beyond gold to source only ethical gemstones.

3. 87-year old Earl Livingston was on his way to purchase a lottery ticket with a $1.6 billion jackpot when he had the misfortune of falling and breaking his hip, landing himself in Jefferson Stratford Hospital in New Jersey. Frustrated, Livingston shared his inability to purchase a ticket with the nurses treating him. To lift his spirits, one of the physician’s assistants decided to add him into the hospital’s lottery pool for the drawing. While they didn’t hit the big ticket, the one they bought turned out to be a $1 million winner to be shared among all the employees and Livingston.  We are certain this windfall – born of an act of kindness – will help to make his recovery from hip replacement surgery just a little bit easier.

4. Twice a year, Michelle Lee – a young librarian at the New York Public Library’s Riverside branch – hosts a job hunt talk for teenagers. In her chats, she covers the dos and don’ts of interviewing and offers tips on how to produce a strong résumé.  However, when she spoke about how it was important that they wear their best outfit for interviews, one attendee said he didn’t have one.  Knowing that one of the many employment barriers for young or low-income job seekers is being dressed for the part, she came up with an idea and pitched it to the NYPL Innovation Project.  With the library’s approval, Lee bought a dozen briefcases and handbags to kick off a lending program where free handbags, briefcases and ties can be checked out for up to three weeks as part of a pilot program at a branch on the Upper West Side. Although the fashion library was created to help young people, it’s open to any adult who wants to borrow a tie or a bag.

5. In Japan’s version of the World Series, which is being played this week, cracked and splintered baseball bats that once would have been discarded are instead being used to make chopsticks. According to the New York Times, over the course of the baseball season, thousands of damaged bats are reprocessed into reusable “kattobashi” – a mash-up of the Japanese word for chopsticks and a baseball chant that translates as “get a bit hit.” The program is designed to help preserve and replenish a species of ash tree known as aodamo, which is native to Japan.

6. When Aubrey Fontenot’s 8-year old son was being bullied at school by an 11-year old schoolmate, the Houston-area father stepped in – and was reminded that things aren’t always what they seem. A concerned Fontenot turned to the school for help asking if he could get in touch with the bully’s family. Upon talking with the child’s mother, he learned that the family had fallen on hard times and was experiencing homelessness. It emerged that the boy was envious of Fontenot’s son. The object of that envy? Clean clothing. He himself was being bullied by older kids for having dirty worn-out clothing. The following week, Fontenot led a shopping expedition to buy new apparel. Today, the two boys are friends.  And Fontenot, going the extra mile, started a GoFundMe campaign to benefit the 11-year old’s family, which to date has raised more than $24,000.

7. In another win for animals everywhere, both Coach and Burberry have joined the growing list of luxury brands who’ve vowed to go fur-free, joining Gucci, Michael Kors, Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, Armani and Versace. While Coach will be phasing out all types of animal fur from now until late 2019, Burberry’s policy was implemented with the debut of the Spring Summer 2019 collection (shown this fall). Burberry is also ending its practice of destroying unsaleable pieces.

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