A British boy is being hailed as a hero after rescuing five beachgoers in the span of just two days. Steffan Williams, 8, was kayaking in the sea, close to a treacherous stretch of coastline where the tide can trap unknowing tourists, when he spotted an elderly woman and two teens trapped on a rock. Grabbing his rubber dinghy, he towed them to shore. A day later, Steffan noticed two more teens stranded on the very same rock, frantically waving to get his attention, and notified the local lifeguard team. "I want to be a lifeboat person when I get the chance," says the youngster. Christina Colizza
Mosul is coming back to life. Two months after Iraqi forces drove ISIS from the city following a brutal occupation, its residents have staged an impromptu book festival at the gutted Mosul University library. Once home to 3 million books, the building's interior was reduced to ashes by the militants. But volunteers managed to recover 36,000 volumes from the ruins — including a number of ancient manuscripts. They set them, along with books donated from around the world, on outdoor shelves for anyone to read. "I used to weep for what happened," says volunteer Yomna Ebeid. "Now I am confident [that the library] can return better than ever." Christina Colizza
While walking along the water in Laguna Beach, California, Alex Noble stepped on something hard. Thinking it was a rock, he bent over to take a closer look — and discovered it was a camera, caked in sand.
Noble brought it to his girlfriend's brother, who was able to recover 172 pictures from the battered device. The photos were of a wedding, and hoping to find the couple, they uploaded the pictures to Facebook. Soon, they heard good news from a friend of a friend: The couple in the pictures were newlyweds Heather and Kole, high school sweethearts who married in Laguna Beach two months earlier.
After their ceremony, Heather, Kole, and their guests placed all of their belongings on a sea wall. A big wave came in and pulled everything into the sea; Heather and Kole jumped into the ocean, trying to get the camera with their wedding pictures, but couldn't find it. Heather and Kole were shocked when they heard the camera had been found, and thankful. "There are not enough words to say how grateful we are," Heather told Inside Edition. Catherine Garcia
As part of Drake University's national day of service, students, staff, and alumni, as well as other volunteers, grabbed hammers, nails, and wood and got to building tiny houses that will be used to shelter the homeless.
Drake teamed up with Joppa, a nonprofit that assists the homeless in Des Moines, to build the tiny houses, which will be placed in a community Joppa is designing. The houses are just 100 square feet, and the goal is to let a homeless person move in so they don't have to worry about their living accommodations as they search for work.
Drake's football team started things off by building the bases, and the homes were finished by campus groups, staff, alumni, and friends of the university last weekend. "This feels like a very tangible solution," Alex Ghekas, a junior at Drake University, told The Des Moines Register. "Each house we build will take someone off the streets and give them somewhere to go." Catherine Garcia
A chihuahua-dachshund mix named Sir LaRue Winnieschnitzle — aka Chewbarka — saved several lives when he alerted his family to a fire about to engulf their Florida home.
Early one recent Tuesday, James and Theresa Parsons woke up to Chewbarka, 3, barking his head off. He wouldn't stop, so Theresa Parsons got up to see what was making him so upset; once at the back of the house, she saw the porch was on fire. "It was a wall of flames," James Parsons told the Tallahassee Democrat. The Parsons ran to the front door and escaped. Firefighters estimated that the house sustained $85,000 worth of damage, and while the family was safe, they lost nearly everything, including heirlooms.
The fire took place on Theresa Parsons' birthday, and despite the devastation, the family is looking at the bright side — neighbors have rallied to give their teenage son with autism a new Nintendo 3DS to replace the one burned in the fire, James Parsons was able to sift through the ashes and find his wife's wedding band and engagement ring, and, of course, their dog Chewbarka is a hero. "Everything happens for a reason but we don't know what the outcomes are going to be," Theresa Parsons told the Tallahassee Democrat. "But we stand firm in our faith." Catherine Garcia
At the age of 8, Sophia Spencer has done something many scientists only dream of: She co-authored a paper that was published this month in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.
Spencer, who lives in Canada, loves bugs — snails, slugs, caterpillars, and her personal favorite, grasshoppers. When the kids at school started making fun of her because they thought it was weird for her to be so interested in bugs, Spencer's mom wrote a letter to the Entomological Society of Canada, asking if they could share any words of encouragement, Quartz reports. After the request hit Twitter, support started flooding in for Spencer, and Morgan Jackson, an entomologist at the University of Guelph Insect Collection, decided to publish a paper on the importance of social media making science accessible to a greater audience. He asked Spencer to be his co-author.
Jackson analyzed social engagement and the topics that were brought up, like getting more women involved in STEM, while Spencer wrote about her love of insects and what it was like to speak with entomologists. The tide has turned at school, Spencer said, and now the kids think bugs are cool and they use her microscope to get a closer look. "If somebody said bugs weren't for girls, I would be really mad at them," she said. "I think anything can be for anybody, including bugs." Catherine Garcia
Philip Osborn never knew he had a sister until he moved in next door to her. After living in Florida for years, Osborn recently moved back to a Michigan retirement home to be closer to his family. His new neighbor, Marilyn Meyers, adopted at birth, had spent the past few decades searching for her biological family — so when she heard that someone with the last name Osborn had just moved in, she started investigating. After confirming small bits of family history, they were shocked to discover they were siblings. "I've always wanted to be an older brother," Osborn told Fox17. "It's divine intervention." Christina Colizza
Jane Fine Foster was shopping in Grand Junction, Colorado, earlier this year when she did a double take.
As she walked by A Robin's Nest Antiques, Foster saw three very familiar pictures in a long frame. They were of her mother, taken at her wedding in 1948. Foster thought she'd never see the photos again — her family had missed a payment in 2003 on their storage unit, and the contents, including the pictures and her mother's wedding dress, were auctioned off. She made dozens of calls, trying to track the items down, but finally gave up. "All my life, we saw this wedding picture on the wall in my home," Foster told Inside Edition. "I stood there and I blinked and I blinked and you blink again and think, 'Oh, you're seeing things.' That really was my mother's wedding photo."
She went inside and shared her story with the owner, who shocked her once again by saying he also had the wedding gown, which was downstairs. Foster's mother died in 2013, and having her dress back is a dream come true. "She touched this fabric and I can touch it now and think of her," she said. Catherine Garcia