July 11, 2018

When Gene Work of Pasco County, Florida, had a heart attack over the weekend, his health was the last thing on his mind.

Work had been putting down sod in his front yard, trying to get it finished before his homeowner's association fined him, Work's wife, Melissa, wrote on Facebook. When first responders arrived, he kept talking about the sod as he slipped in and out of consciousness, even mentioning it as he was in the ambulance, headed to emergency surgery.

Melissa Work's brother-in-law was helping with the sod that day, and was prepared to spend hours finishing the job, but soon a fire truck and ambulance drove up to the house, and six first responders joined him in the yard. Melissa Work said they knew her husband was in "serious trouble," and wanted to make sure the sod didn't die. "They saved his life, dropped him off, and then cared enough to save our grass," she said. Gene Work is now recovering, and on Tuesday, he reunited with the first responders. "We are just out of words," he said. "I can't believe you guys came back, it's amazing." Catherine Garcia

July 9, 2018

One benefit of the heatwave sweeping Wales is that it is bringing history to life.

Because fields are dry from the heat, the outlines of ancient settlements buried underneath farmland are now visible from the air. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales is snapping photos of the crop marks, which will disappear as soon as it rains.

There are ancient settlements across Wales, and most had drainage ditches around them, BBC News reports. When the settlements disappeared, the ditches were filled in, and now that it's farming land, the soil is deeper where the ditches once were. When it's hot and the land dries out, the old fortifications retain moisture, and the crops there are lush, making them stand out. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has recently taken photos of a medieval castle mound, buried ramparts, and a prehistoric farm. Catherine Garcia

July 8, 2018

When Alanna "Lonnie" Wall was 10, she approached her mother with an idea: Why didn't she go to local hospitals and treat young patients there to manicures?

Wall loved getting her nails done with her grandmother, and she wanted kids who weren't able to go to the salon to have the same pampering experience. The Dayton, Ohio, resident ran into a problem, though; she was well below the volunteering age of 15. Wall's mom asked the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association if her daughter could volunteer there, and they agreed. "I'm still close with the first girl I ever polished, Olivia," Wall told NBC News. Olivia is now 24, and "in a way I feel like we grew up together," Wall said.

Wall was inspired to start her own nonprofit, Polished Girlz, which recruits others to take their nail polishing skills to hospitals and medical facilities. It's open to boys and girls 8 years and older — there is no age cutoff — and once approved, participants pay $55 for a kit that includes nail polish, remover, hand sanitizer, glitter, stickers, and a T-shirt. There are more than 900 volunteers who have painted thousands of nails, and the organization is continuing to grow. Wall, who spends much of her free time painting nails, will head to the University of Southern California in the fall to study business. Catherine Garcia

July 6, 2018

Frank Anderson celebrated the Fourth of July by making history, becoming the oldest person to ever throw out the first pitch in AutoZone Park.

Anderson, 104, is a World War II veteran, and on Wednesday, he stepped in front of home plate and threw a pitch to start off the Memphis Redbirds game with a bang. Anderson was one of the master sergeants under Gen. Walton Harris in Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army of the 20th Corps, fighting in England, Germany, and France.

The Redbirds, a Triple A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, invited him to throw the first pitch in appreciation for his service. Catherine Garcia

July 4, 2018

When the Lakota Tomahawks heard their rival football team, the Middletown Middies, needed equipment following a theft, they didn't hesitate to send over a donation.

More than $40,000 was stolen from the Middletown Youth Football and Cheer League in Middletown, Ohio, and the Tomahawks coaching staff wanted to help in any way possible. They donated shoulder pads, and another local nonprofit, Cleats for Kids, rounded up shoes and other items. "It always makes you feel good when somebody that is your competitor comes in to help you out," Middies coach Quincy Hightower told WCPO. "We hope to do the same and pay that forward in the future."

More than 170 elementary school kids are part of the Middletown Youth Football and Cheer League, and many of their families need assistance paying for their equipment. They've already held several fundraisers, including dinners and car washes, to make up for the stolen money, and they still need helmets so they can play in the fall. The league's former treasurer has been charged with two counts of felony theft in connection with the missing money. Catherine Garcia

July 3, 2018

Wallace de Oliveria Rocha and his bright yellow jersey happened to catch photographer Bruno Itan's eye while at a free World Cup viewing party in Brazil.

A post shared by Bruno Itan (@brunoitan) on

The 12-year-old was watching the Brazil v. Costa Rica game while wearing a homemade jersey emblazoned with the name of his favorite player: Philippe Coutinho, #11. "What caught my attention about Wallace was his creativity," Itan told NBC News. Itan waited for Coutinho to appear on the screen, then snapped a quick photo of Rocha with his favorite player in the background. He posted the photo to his Instagram account, and almost immediately, people began commenting and sharing the picture, trying to get Coutinho's attention.

Itan went back to the favela where Rocha lives with his family, and learned that Rocha wanted a Brazilian national team jersey to wear during the World Cup, but at $66, his family just couldn't afford it. A local seamstress made a jersey for him, charging $2.75, which was still a stretch for the family. They don't have wifi, but a neighbor lets the young soccer fan use his so Rocha can watch Coutinho play.

The effort to get Coutinho to see Rocha's jersey paid off — not only has he arranged to meet his fan when he's back in Brazil, but he also recorded a message and sent an official autographed jersey to his home. Rocha, who loves soccer and dreams of becoming a professional so he can buy his mom a house, told Brazil's OGlobo he is excited to wear his new jersey, but is waiting until after the World Cup, because he's pretty sure the top he wears now is good luck. Catherine Garcia

July 2, 2018

Just moments after being rescued from a 50-foot-hole, Toffee, a 7-week-old Australian Shepherd mix puppy, was back to her old self, running alongside her siblings and giving them licks.

Toffee's 30-hour rescue was the talk of Huntsville, Alabama, and beyond last week. Toffee is deaf and visually impaired, and along with her three siblings, is being fostered by Karen and Bud Smith. The puppies were outside with Karen on Thursday, the ground wet from heavy rains. Toffee stood on a spot above a crack in the ground, and because of the rain, it was weak; she went tumbling down, landing at the bottom of a 50-foot hole.

Immediately, the Smiths called 911 and the dog rescue, and "it took on a life of its own," Karen Smith said. "People were calling different people to try and help." As they tried to figure out how to rescue Toffee, food was dropped down to her, and she drank from puddles. After the local news reported on Toffee, people started bringing equipment to the Smiths' backyard and offering tips on how to get her out. After 30 hours, volunteer firefighters and a wildlife services employee were able to snake a snare through a PVC pipe and feed it down the hole, using sardines as bait.

Shortly after midnight Saturday, Toffee approached the bait, and was slowly lifted to safety. "I cried so much in the last two days that I think all the tears are gone," Smith told AL.com shortly after the rescue. "I think the biggest thing with this is finding out about the power of a community. I couldn't have dreamt that the number of people willing to help someone they never met." Catherine Garcia

July 2, 2018
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The public libraries in Douglas County, Oregon, should be closed, but dedicated volunteers are ensuring that they keep their doors open.

This is a logging area, and due to dwindling federal timber revenues, the county asked voters last year to approve a small tax initiative that would have funded the libraries. It didn't pass, and branches slowly started to close. Book lovers of all ages brainstormed ways to keep the libraries open, and they decided to volunteer their time and skills in any way possible — some are there to check books in and out, and others are updating branch websites. "It's very heartening to see so many people turn out to preserve something that is so very good for this community," volunteer and author Robert Leo Heilman told The Oregonian.

Nine of the 11 closed libraries are back open, thanks to these volunteers, donations, and fundraisers. In Riddle, the mayor decided in June 2017 the city could pay for the library's utilities and building maintenance, but volunteers are covering everything else. After briefly using index cards and a ledger to check out books, a local resident with IT knowledge installed new computer software so it can be done electronically. There are 38 volunteers at the Riddle library, and it's open for three days a week for a total of 15 hours. Catherine Garcia

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