The Most Heartwarming News Stories Of 2021

The year 2021 followed up the year of "unprecedented times," brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Times were uncertain but with every new year that comes, there is hope.

The contagious virus that introduced itself to most of the world in 2020 continued to dominate the news cycle this year. What also came along was the conversation to mask or not to mask, mandates, remote schooling and work, and who can forget about vaccines (and now booster shots)? A lot happened in 2021. People died — some famous, some not, many from COVID-19.

One of the biggest stories of 2021 came in the first month of the year. The January 6 Capitol insurrection stunned the nation and the world, and it was the first time in over two centuries that the Capitol was breached, according to History. President Biden also officially withdrew the final troops from Afghanistan after a two-decade war, natural disasters reared their heads with volcanic eruptions (via Smithsonian) and fires, athletes finally competed in the delayed Olympics, and protests drew public attention to various events and causes. Even with the world's various issues and ongoing drama, there was some heartwarming good during 2021 that deserves recognition.

A new house for the holidays

As the holiday season is currently underway, it is also usually the time that many want to ensure that others get to enjoy a decent Christmas. This is something that was likely very important to an Ohio woman named Suzanne Burke, per WCPO.

Every morning for a few years now, Burke visits a Dunkin' Donuts location in Mount Healthy, Ohio. Even though her patronization of the coffee chain is through the drive-thru, her daily visits helped her form a friendship with Ebony Johnson, the woman who worked the service station. The two always saw each other and quickly became pals. So it was no surprise that as a regular customer, Burke became concerned when she hadn't seen Johnson working the drive-thru. She learned that Johnson, a mother of three, had been evicted from her home. But Burke didn't just go about her day. She immediately sprung into action. Burke reached out to several organizations and last week, Johnson was not only gifted with a new home to live in — but it was furnished, too.

In her concern for Johnson's well-being, a family that fell on hard times now has a home just in time for Christmas. "I just wanted to see if I could help her just improve her life and the life for her kids. I wanted to make sure that they had stable housing, so that she could continue to provide the excellent service she does at Dunkin,'" said Burke.

Mask up and on

As millions of children were back to school in person this year, there was one new thing they were required to come to class with other than book bags: Kids had to have masks on in the classroom.

Aside from lunch time or mask breaks, many children are required to have their masks on at all times. So imagine how that affected picture day when that came around. Of course, a day for school pictures would be another exception where students can take off their masks, but one young tyke thought not.

In September, a Las Vegas boy warmed the hearts of everyone with his display of parental obedience. When asked by a photographer to remove his mask for his school picture, 6-year-old Mason Peoples had a non-negotiable answer. The first grader told the photographer that he was not going to take off his mask because his mother told him not to unless he was eating or socially-distanced (via 8 News Now). Even with a second follow-up question on whether he wanted to remove his mask, the young boy was adamant about following his mother's directions. The heartwarming story quickly went viral and donations for his future college fund poured in (via Newsweek).

Transportation for veterans

Despite serving on America's defense front, the country's returning veterans face a lot of challenges. Being a veteran can come with homelessness, disability, mental health disorders, and unemployment, says Veterans of America. But while the issues persist, there are countless organizations and people in general that want to help them out.

One issue that can be an issue for veterans is transportation — getting to and from. Many veterans can't get around easily. Which is why veterans are sometimes gifted with cars. Recently, two single mothers, both veterans — one from Colorado (KRDO) and the other from New York (WABC) — were given refurbished wheels. The veterans were in need of cars to get to their places of employment. Insurance company Geico and car repair company Caliber Collision have partnered for years now to gift cars to veterans.

Many veterans rely on public transportation, and per WCIA, some live in rural areas where that's not an option. Receiving a car is a valuable gift not just to anyone, but especially veterans. A quick Google search shows that these aren't just isolated instances of generosity and gratitude for those who served their country.

Lending a helping hand

One of the top immigration stories of this year was the migration of Haitians hoping to ask for asylum at the Del Rio border in Texas. Instead, a humanitarian crisis developed and immigrants were met by American border agents on horseback, slinging whips at them. The shocking images prompted international outrage and a harsh response from the White House (via CNBC). In the midst of the events that ensued, some migrants were flown back, and others walked back to Mexico.

While their ultimate goal was to end up in the U.S., Haitian migrants had to seek refuge elsewhere. Mexicans in the nearby border city of Ciudad Acuña lent a lot of hands to help migrants in need. Per Associated Press, residents of the city offered food, shelter, and grooming services. Not only did some Haitians return to Mexico out of fear of U.S. border agents, they also feared Mexican immigration agents, too, because raids were happening. But dozens of Mexicans met the Haitians with kindness through services (via Getty).

A very hefty tip

Working in food service comes with its challenges. One of those issues, particularly for a server, is trying to earn decent tips, since it will have a big impact on your take-home pay. So imagine the surprise some servers get when they receive a tip that's well beyond even generous.

In this pandemic year, so much has changed for the restaurant industry due to social distancing, vaccine requirements, and mask mandates. Some customers have gone the extra mile to demonstrate their support for these vital workers by tipping more, especially one man did back in June.

Last summer a man walked into a New Hampshire restaurant and purchased less than $40 worth of food and drinks. When it came the time to give his gratuity, the man added three zeros to his final bill, leaving a $16,000 tip (via NBC News). The good deed encouraged another heartwarming act of kindness. The staff decided that the tip was going to be split between the servers, but they all agreed to include the kitchen personnel as well — ensuring that they all got a portion of the hefty tip. Bartender Michelle McCuddin told NBC that the generous gesture "really restored my faith in humanity."