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10 things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a day for spending time with family and friends and, yes, enjoying some delicious food.

But it’s also a time to be thankful for what we have in this life.

The following 10 stories are happy and uplifting, and represent the best that we as people have to offer — and be thankful for — in this world.

No. 10 – Volunteers

Volunteers rushed to the side of a Canadian Mosque after it was vandalized due to religious intolerance. The Mosque was tagged with words like “go home,” and the building’s windows were smashed out.

Seeing how these events have brought parliamentarians from all over the country from different faiths closer together to rise above the occasion, I think that's a very Canadian response, and I think that's what you are seeing in Cold Lake today too. — Westlock-St. Paul MP Brian Storseth

No. 9 – Furkids

Meet Rick Snyder: About a decade ago he began collecting the change he found lying around, and earlier this year he donated the money to his local animal shelter — all $21,495 of it.

No. 8 – Using talents for good

Gregory Kloehn does something special and unique: He scours trash and discarded household goods so he can find the materials he needs to build small, mobile shelters for the homeless in his community.

Consider it the best form of upcycling ever.

No. 7 – Those who give

OckTV is a YouTube channel that shows a group of guys pull off pranks and social experiments. In a recent video of theirs, called “Asking Strangers For Food! (Social Experiment),” one of the OckTV guys walks around New York City and asks strangers for some help in the form of sustenance.

All but one stranger turned the guy away.

OckTV went up to a homeless guy and gave him some pizza. About 20 minutes and a change of clothes later, one of the guys from OckTV went back to the homeless stranger and asked for a slice. The homeless man obliged without hesitation and, for his unselfish act, he was given something that would really help him and his situation out. Watch below (but, warning, as there’s some language):

No. 6 – Coaches

“It’s the best thing I ever did in my life.”

Coaches have, at times, been known to become parental figures to the kids they instruct. After all, they impart wisdom and knowledge, not just on the sport, but on life.

And then there's Jack Mook, who took things a little further.

Mook is a Pittsburgh detective who also coaches boxing when he can. When two of his students stopped showing up for practice, he began investigating, and learned the two boys were living in unfavorable conditions.

So, he did something spectacular: Took them in and eventually adopted them:

No. 5 – Educators

Pranks come in a variety of flavors, but this one was meaningful and heartfelt: A teacher thought she was going to prank her students with a less-than-awesome substitute teacher but, instead, the prank was turned on her as she was thanked by her kiddos for being awesome:

No. 4 – Community

Ethan Van Leuven was 4 years old when he died of acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Oct. 28. But before he passed, his community came together and celebrated Halloween early, just so Ethan could experience it, Superman costume and all:

No. 3 – Heroes

Learn more about Malala Yousafzai.

No. 2 – Our kids

Remember getting an allowance as a kid? Do you remember what you spent it on? Probably candy. Toys. Video games. You know, the usual stuff kids like.

So you might be surprised to learn 9-year-old Rylee McCune and her 11-year-old cousin Infinity White did something quite different with their hard-earned allowances: They used it to buy cold weather supplies (socks, gloves, tooth paste, etc.) for the homeless in their Vancouver, Wash., community.

No. 1 – The best of friends

Remember what it was like to be a teenager? You likely don’t even want to think about it: those awkward years, the high school culture, the everything!

Now, imagine if you realized you were a gay teenager. And imagine the kind of fright you’d feel if someone — anyone — found out.

This young guy went through exactly that and he decided to tell his best friend about his feelings and what he discovered about himself.

How his “bro” responded will lift your spirits:

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Richard Hall

Richard Hall is an award-winning newsroom developer, editor and blogger for NewsOK. He was born in Austin, Texas, spent his childhood in southern California and has lived in Norman since 1999. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008. Read more ›