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The Delaware County Delco Gift Group

Shannon Jackson

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In Delaware County, Pennsylvania there is a unique group that calls itself the Delco Group.  Every Christmas, certain local families are referred to the Delco Group.  Then, the group performs Christmas magic for various members of the county.

Led by John Port, CEO of the Delco Group, the group takes on this challenge every year during the holidays.  The group is composed of 11 friends, who all participate in bringing the holiday spirit to families that have been the victims of recent tragedies.  Here is an example of a local family the group helped this year.

The Ortiz family was definitely in need of some Christmas magic.  The family of Juan and two boys had suffered the loss of Nicole, Juan’s wife and mother of the two boys.  The family received the devastating news that Nicole had six months left to live.  So, they made some plans to spend their last Christmas together in a special way.  However, Nicole only survived two weeks after her diagnosis, and thus, the family did not get to spend their last Christmas together.

Nicole had planned to take her family to Disney World for their last Christmas.  She wanted the boys to have an especially happy memory of their last time together.  Her family are big fans of the mouse, and had planned to visit Disney World when the boys were a bit bigger.  They did not have the time.  So, for Christmas the Delco Group gave each boy a special Micky Mouse shirt from Disney World. The shirts each has “MOM” embroidered on the shirts. They also gave the family a free trip to Disney World, which they will take just as Nicole wanted the family to do.  Juan felt this was one of the few happy moments the family has had since Nicole’s death.    Juan is no longer dreading this Christmas and the holidays thanks to the Delco Group.

This year the Delco Group took on 14 families for the holidays.  Each family received a special gift or gifts to help them celebrate the holidays as cheerfully as possible.  The Delco Group believes in holiday magic and thanks to the community, manages to make magic every Christmas.  The group has grown through the years and is now able to take on a number of families.  In the beginning, the group was smaller and able to help only a few families.

The Delco Group has received inquiries from other areas about how they, too, can set up a special fund for the holidays.  It seems there are always families who need a hand during the holiday season.   The Delco Group has a number of local service institutions that they contact each year to find their needy families.  Sometimes the families are referred by a friend or family member directly to the group.

The Delco Group meets during November and early December and nominates the families that have been referrred to them.  The group then finalizes the families they want to help and takes on the job of funding the gifts to each family.  Some of the gifts are paid for by the Delco Group; others are a combined effort between the Delco Group and other organizations that simply want to help spread holiday magic.

The Delco Group is already talking about the 2020 holidays.  They hope to help even more families in 2020 and make their holiday magic go as far as possible.  Delaware County is very lucky to have such caring residents who are always ready to help their local families through the holiday season.

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Culture

Cat Takes a Ride Among the Boxes

Kevin Wells

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If you’ve ever owned a cat, you’ve observed the peculiar affinity cats have toward boxes.  There are several reasons people love cats. They’re affectionate, cute, soft and generally low-maintenance. For an average family cat, the monthly expense is approximately $100. You could lower that expense by replacing fancy cat toys and play-houses with empty cardboard boxes.

The comfort and security cats find from lounging in cardboard boxes went a little too far for Millie McMahon’s adventurous cat Trixie. Trixie, like most cats, loves empty boxes. This worked out great for Millie when she was preparing to move from Boston to San Francisco. All the empty cardboard boxes around the house kept Trixie entertained and out from under foot while Millie packed her house.

As the moving truck retreated from Millie’s driveway, Millie let out a deep sigh of relief. Only a few essential items remained, which Millie would pack in her car for her own trip across the country. Trixie was one of those “items”, except Trixie was nowhere to be found. Millie waved it off as Trixie just being skittish about the packing and the movers, and her world being in disarray.

Trixie didn’t show up the next day either. Or the next. Millie began feeling worried. She couldn’t leave for California without her cat.

Meanwhile, traveling across the country in a moving truck, was Eddie. Eddie was no stranger to driving trucks. He found comfort in the humming of the wheels on the highway as he ambled along his route. He found it meditative. 

Eddie lost his meditative mood on the second day of his drive. On day two he woke from his motel, showered, ate breakfast and settled into the driver’s seat. Shortly after, as he rolled down the highway, he started to hear an odd squeaking noise. At first, he thought he was imagining the occasional soft mewing. By the end of the day he found it maddening. He ruled out engine issues after checking under the hood. He decided it had to be something in one of the boxes. The boxes, however, were too tightly and perfectly packed to unload and investigate. He’d have to just live with the unnerving noise.

Eddie finally arrived at Millie’s new house and began unpacking his truck. At the back of the moving truck, among a shelf of blankets, shone a pair of glowing yellow eyes. Eddie was startled to see the eyes.He was even more shocked when the cat to whom the eyes belonged jumped from the blankets and onto Eddie’s chest. Instinctively Eddie caught the cat and held him. This is the source of the three days’ noise!

He held the cat as he walked to the cab of his truck, not knowing where the cat came from or what he was going to do. He just sat and looked at the cat, as the cat stared back at him, purring. He poured water into his coffee cup and thought how hungry this cat must be. He made a short trip to the corner market for some kitty food. As he opened the truck door, Trixie jumped out and ran quickly behind the building. Eddie couldn’t see where the cat went.

Eddie returned to Millie’s house to be sure it was secured, knowing Millie wouldn’t be arriving for a few days. It was there that he spotted Trixie, sitting inside, in a sunny window! 

Eddie called the number that Millie had given him, for use in the event of an emergency. Millie was relieved to hear that Trixie had been found. Eddie left enough food and water for Trixie. Millie could now embark on her own trip to California knowing that her cat was safe “at home”.

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Culture

My Hero Mango

Shannon Jackson

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In 2019 Shawn and Rita Fitzgerald settled into the realization that they were never going to be parents. Rita had suffered multiple miscarriages. She found it difficult to spend time with friends who had children. It was painful for her to mingle among neighbors with children. 

Their neighbors across the street, Martin and Leslie had a young son, Owen. Rita had heard through the grapevine that Leslie was now expecting another child. Rita was devastated to hear this news, which for most women would bring excitement and job. Shawn was worried about Rita. 

On his way home from work one afternoon, Shawn stopped at the local animal shelter and met Mango. She was a sweet, quiet, caramel colored pit bull. Despite the negative stereotype pit bulls are known to have, Shawn filled out the application to adopt Mango. A week later, Shawn was driving home with Mango to surprise Rita. He was sure Rita would absolutely fall in love with her. 

He was right. Rita and Mango became inseparable. Rita’s melancholy demeanor dissolved slowly, despite having to watch Leslie’s belly grow through her pregnancy. By the time Leslie’s new baby, Aiden, was born, Rita was happy. Mango was exactly what Rita needed. As it turned out, Mango was exactly what Leslie needed, too. 

Leslie was a bit of a neat freak. She liked a clean house. She was a big fan of candles to enhance the fragrance of cleanliness. 

One quiet afternoon, after a long walk in the woods, Rita and Mango took a nap on Rita’s couch. Rita was startled awake when Mango jumped from his slumber and raced to the front door. Rita followed, looking out. Mango was whining uncontrollably. Rita started to open the door when Mango pushed her aside and raced out and across the street to Leslie’s house.

Mango nosed open the screen door of Leslie’s house and disappeared inside. Rita wasn’t sure what was happening. Then she saw the smoke billowing from the second story of Leslie’s house. Leslie’s car was in the driveway, so Rita assumed Leslie was home with the kids. She instantly called the fire rescue.

Rita let herself into the smoke-filled house, finding Leslie and the baby asleep on the couch. Owen was nowhere in sight. Rita was shouting waking Leslie. She ushered them outside to find the fire truck approaching. The firefighters disappeared for what seemed an eternity. They brought Owen out of the house, but not Mango.

Her fear about Mango turned into panic. She knew Mango was still in the house. The entire second floor was now entirely engulfed in flames. The firemen eventually retreated, without Mango and they continued working to extinguish the fire.

Hours later Rita sat in shock, knowing her beloved Mango was gone. She sat on her porch staring at the ruins of Leslie’s house, too stunned to cry. In too much of a shock to hear Leslie’s husband and toddler approach. The three of them sat in silence as Owen climbed into Rita’s lap. He rested his head on Rita’s chest and after a while he said softly, “Mango is my best friend”.  

It took Leslie and Martin more than a year to completely restore their home. During that time, Owen came to visit Leslie every day. He insisted on taking walks with Rita, asking questions about Mango. He got Rita to laugh, talking about her caramel colored hero.

On the anniversary of the perilous fire, Leslie and Martin accompanied Owen on his visit to see Rita. They brought a box which held a framed photo of Rita and Mango, Mango’s collar that had been found among the ashes, and a check for $25,000 that Leslie and Martin were giving to the animal shelter.

It didn’t bring Mango back to Rita, but it did make her happy that Mango saved this sweet boy Owen and that many animals would benefit from Martin and Leslie’s gift of charity.

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An Abandoned Puppy Finds His Forever Home Thousands of Miles Away

Kelly Taylor

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There are countless animals out there that are in need of families who are going to love them and take care of them. Sometimes, animals are born on the street and end up as strays. They struggle to find food and water as every day is just a struggle to stay alive. In other cases, animals might be the victims of abuse and are looking for owners who are going to show them love and compassion instead of cruelty. Those who welcome pets into their homes will agree with this sentiment. If there was enough room in everyone’s home to adopt a pet, most people would. This is the story of a dog that spent his life on the street until he was taken in by a family at the end of a very long and arduous journey. This simply shows what some animals are willing to endure in an effort to find love.

Several years ago, there was a golden retriever who has left to fend for himself on the streets of one of the biggest cities in the world, Istanbul. At the time, there was a trend unfolding in the country. Many families in the local area decided that a golden retriever was the best type of dog to have in the local area. Of course, like other fashion trends, this one started to fall by the wayside. Once families realized that having a golden retriever would not elevate them in the social stratosphere, they decided to dump the dog. This is how this golden retriever ended up on the streets. The story and trend are both absolutely heartbreaking. Nobody should ever kick their dog to the curb; however, this is what happened to this poor golden retriever.

Even worse, this golden retriever was just a puppy at the time. He had just turned one year old and was being asked to fend for himself. Furthermore, the golden retriever was born with some defects. He had an elbow joint that was not quite fully formed. This meant that one of his legs was crooked. This made it even more difficult for him to move around and survive on his own. It is easy to see how this golden retriever could have trouble finding food and water on the streets of one of the biggest cities in the world.

Because of the situation going on in Istanbul with so many dogs being left for dead on the streets, a local charity for dogs in Atlanta decided to step in. The organization got wind of what was happening and decided that enough was enough. They adopted dozens of dogs from the local shelters in Istanbul to try to alleviate some of the problems that were unfolding in this bustling city.

When the charity brought the dogs back to the states, there was a couple that was looking for a sibling for a dog they already had. This couple had a dog that only had one eye. Even though some people might not want a dog with a disability, this couple is trying to break the stigma. Therefore, they stepped right up and adopted this golden retriever who had a problem with his elbow and front leg. 

In this way, this golden retriever traveled thousands of miles across the ocean to find his forever home. For this family, it was love at first sight. To this day, they say the golden retriever fits right in with their family. Now, this golden retriever gets to live happily ever after with a family who lives him.

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Culture

The Odd Pair

Renee Yates

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A piglet and a cat might seem like an odd pair, but the kitten named Sriracha and the little pig Batman have proved otherwise. The friendship and interactions of these two close friends are the most heartwarming thing you will ever see. Both animals lived at Rancho Relaxo – a non-profit rescue farm in Woodstown, New Jersey established by Caitlin Cimini.  They were more than just friends because Sriracha depended on Batman in a big way. 

Sriracha, a cute black kitten, suffers from a non-progressive and non-contagious neurological disorder known as feline cerebellar hypoplasia, causing walking and balance issues. There are seriously bad days when Sriracha has two seizures in a row and becomes a little “off”.  Feline cerebellar hypoplasia is caused by improper development of the parts of the cerebellum or exposure to infections, toxins, and nutritional deficiencies. It might be hard and sad to see the kitten shaking but, actually, such condition is absolutely painless. 

 When Sriracha was going through the bad period of her life, she found comfort and support from a two-week-old orphan rescued piglet. Caitlin Cimini says that Batman always felt when the kitten was about to experience a seizure. He rushed immediately to her to put his body on top of Sriracha’s and comfort his poor friend.  Caitlin wrote on her Instagram: “Sriracha found comfort in Batman. And Batman almost knew what he was doing for her. It was a beautiful thing to watch”.  The baby Batman did not leave his buddy alone. He cuddled up to Sriracha by keeping her company. Though the kitten cannot speak, she was definitely thankful for her little pink friend.  They got really attached to each other and became inseparable. 

Unfortunately, due to congenital problems, Batman passed away. Sriracha was devastated and brokenhearted by sobbing for a little pink buddy for days. However, fortunately, in an odd twist of fate, Caitlin soon rescued Batman’s bittersweet sibling from the auction and named him Dragonlord.  To everyone’s surprise, after Dragonlord warmed up, he started taking care of Sriracha even better than his brother Batman did. Dragonlord and Sriracha became very close best friends by spending a lot of time together. Just like Batman, Dragonlord comforts the kitten every time when she is experiencing a seizure. In return, Sriracha shows her love by grooming her supportive friend and showering him with kisses.  

Such a beautiful and unusual friendship of animals has captured the hearts of millions of fans around the world on social media. “That is why I do what I do” – says a founder of Rancho Relaxo on her Instagram. “This is the reason why my entire life is dedicated to helping animals. They are the most beautiful creatures on this planet”. So far, Caitlin and her husband have rescued already hundreds of animals, and they do not have an intention to stop. 

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Culture

Saint Bernard and Son Spoof Mom on Emergency

Renee Yates

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There is a saying that dogs are man’s best friend. In many ways, pets are a great way to teach Sean responsibility when they were growing up. In other cases, that’s can’t even pull pranks on their owners. This is exactly what happens when a mother got a call from her son.

A mom was surprised to get a panicked phone call from her son saying that you need to come home right away. When parents receive this phone call, they often think that their child has been injured or has fallen ill. At the phone call continued, this wasn’t quite what happened.

She listened to her son continue talking on the phone and realized that the dog had somehow gotten on the roof of the home. While most homeowners don’t even think about their roofs until there is a problem, this is probably not the type of problem the homeowner had in mind. The sun proceeded to tell her that the giant Saint Bernard, who weighs more than 100 pounds, had somehow climbed up to the roof.

At first, the mother thought this was some sort of prank. At the phone call continue, the details made it undeniable. Even if she didn’t quite believe it, she had no choice but to rush home and figure out what was going on. Indeed, when she got home, she could not believe her eyes. She didn’t think other people would believe her either. Therefore, she pulled out her phone and decided to film the entire incident. At the time, her biggest fear with the family die was going to jump from the roof of the house. This would lead to an absolute disaster.

She shared the video on social media. In the video, the dog can be seen standing on the slope of the roof. In this position, it is easy to see how the homeowner might have been afraid of the dog was going to jump from the roof. She shouts at the dog, in the process of figuring out what he’s doing up there. She says in a stern voice, like a mother to a child, that the dog needs to get off the roof.

As most pet owners will attest, pets don’t always do what they are told. In this case, her begging and commanding did not work. The St. Bernard stayed right where he was. He clearly had no intention of going anywhere quickly. Therefore, the homeowner did not have much of a choice. She needed to ask for help and call in the big guns.

She decided to pick up the phone and calling the local fire department. Eventually, a team of professionally trained firefighters came to the rescue of the dog. They deployed a ladder and leaned it up against the side of the house. Then, they climbed up to get the dog down. That is when the mystery was revealed. It was clear the dog had passed through a window. Then, the dog walked straight through the broken window out to the roof of the small house.

Because of the size of the dog, the firefighters decided that the easiest way to handle the situation was to push him back through the window from whence you came. Then, the dog is safe inside. To this day, the homeowner believes that the dog was mocking her in some way. She says that he was just having a good time hanging out on the roof. Of course, like most good pet owners, she would not trade her dog for anything in the world. She still loves him dearly. 

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