The High Five (Dec. 11)

Here are five good things that happened this week:

This 9-Year-Old Packed 5,000 Gifts for Kids Overseas

If you’re of the opinion that kids shouldn’t get sucked into the world of social media too early, this 9-year-old girl may change your mind. Georgia native Jordyn McNeal used social media to collect 38,000 toys and toiletries to send to kids overseas for Christmas. And then, with the help of her family, Jordyn packed 5,000 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, an initiative by global relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. The fourth grader says, “It’s been really hard but really fun.”

Muslim Groups Raised $180k for San Bernardino Shooting Victims

After the tragic terrorist attack in San Bernardino earlier this month, members of Muslim groups in the area decided they wanted to do something to help. Dr. Faisal Qazi launched the Muslims United for San Bernardino campaign the day after the attack, hoping to raise $50,000 for the families of the 14 people killed in the shooting. Donations started pouring in from Muslims across the country, and the campaign quickly surpassed its goal. So far, the effort has raised $180,000, which will go toward the victims’ families and the Inland Regional Center, where the shooting took place.

Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, told a California news station that the donations were “to simply say that we love you from the bottom of our hearts and they should know that they are not alone in this calamity. We share their sorrow.”

149 Christian Refugees Found Asylum in Slovakia With Help from Mass Donations

Yesterday, a private charter plane carried 149 Christian refugees from Kurdistan to Slovakia where they are receiving full asylum, made possible by a ton of individual donations totaling $12 million. The average donation to the fund, which is operated by the organization Mercury One, was $100. The refugees, who are residents of the historically Christian Nineveh, were terrorized by ISIS back in August 2014. The refugees will now enter a three-year integration program, which will include education, language training and accommodations to help them integrate into Slovakian society.

Mercury One was founded by political pundit, Glenn Beck, who heavily encouraged his listeners to help the persecuted Christians in the Middle East. As a result, 130,000 listeners donated, according to a statement by Beck. In a press release about the evacuation, humanitarian Johnnie Moore, whose advocacy led to the creation of the Nazarene Fund, said:

[The] evacuation is the result of many months of careful planning involving a team of people, but none of this would have been possible without the generous support of thousands upon thousands of those who donated to Mercury One’s Nazarene Fund. For a year, I traveled around the world speaking up on behalf of persecuted Christians, but so few were willing to act. This wasn’t the case with Glenn Beck and—more importantly—his audience. This evacuation is the first in a series of interventions we are making on behalf of ancient Christian communities in the Middle East, which are facing an ongoing genocide.

A Middle Schooler Invented a Better Way for His Disabled Friend to Communicate

A few years ago, Jacob Smilg’s friend Ethan was struck by lightning and suffered a brain injury that left him unable to talk. Earlier this fall, Ethan started communicating by moving his eyes and blinking. Jacob wanted to help give his friend a voice, so he invented a “yes and no” LED board, which lets Ethan light up a “yes” or “no” sign by leaning his head left or right when asked a question.

“We tried it out and it was beautiful,” Jen Smilg, Jacob’s mother told a local news station. “It was the most Ethan’s communicated in 2 1/2 years.”

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Jacob is hoping to improve the device in the future with the help of a 3-D printer, which would let him customize the board to fit to Ethan’s wheelchair.

Research Shows Carbon Emissions Actually Declined This Year

This week brought some good news out of the UN climate change conference in Paris: Carbon emissions stalled—and possibly even decreased—this year, according to a new study. And if the final data does end up showing a drop in global carbon emissions, it will be the first time Co2 levels have dropped during a period of strong economic growth. This is unusual, because most of the time, decreased Co2 emissions have come on the heels of economic downturn.

That just goes to show you can have it all. And who do we have to thank for this good news? None other than the world’s largest contributor to global Co2 emissions: China. The massive country’s new economic adjustments in decreased coal use and new energy sources such as nuclear, wind and solar power are largely responsible for the drop. Last year, China accounted for 27 percent of global carbon emissions followed closely by the U.S. with 15 percent. Of course, carbon emissions are still a big problem, but this goes to show that there’s hope for change.

Bonus: ‘Serial’ Is Back!

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