It wasn't all bad...

The week's good news: July 30, 2020

Catherine Garcia
Perseverance.
Red Huber/Getty Images

1.

NASA rover Perseverance launches for Mars, searching for signs of life

Bound for Mars, the NASA rover Perseverance is equipped to explore an area where scientists hope it will find signs of ancient life. The $2.7 billion rover left Earth on Thursday morning, and will land on the Red Planet around Feb. 18, 2021. It will collect soil and rock samples, which will be placed into tubes that are picked up by another rover in 2026 and set to arrive back on Earth in 2031. Scientists will study the samples to see if there is a common origin between life on Earth and life on ancient Mars, if there was any. Perseverance is programmed to land in Jezero Crater, where there was once a river delta that flowed into a lake. Scientists chose that spot because Mars does not have plate tectonics, meaning the surface hasn't changed much over the last four billion years, and they believe this area will be rich with samples. [Space.com]

2.

Nonprofit sends veterans craft kits to help them stay busy at home

Veterans across the United States are spending their days painting, making wallets, and finishing needlepoint projects, thanks to a nonprofit organization that sends free arts and crafts kits to vets. Help Heal Veterans was started in 1971, and distributes the therapeutic kits to veterans so they can have something to focus on during challenging times, like recovering from an injury. In a typical year, the organization distributes 350,000 to 400,000 kits, but due to demand because of the pandemic, nearly 150,000 have been shipped out over the last two months. Marine Corps veteran Mark Kaleimamahu has multiple sclerosis, and told ABC News the kits take his mind off the pandemic. He has made a wall clock, a wallet, and a messenger bag, and those projects "helped pass the time," he said. "It relieved a bunch of stress, anxiety, and they were fun to do — along with helping us mentally, spiritually, and physically." [ABC News]

3.

Artist paints 1,800 flowers to show gratitude for each employee at a Brooklyn hospital

Using paint, Michael Gittes found a way to express his appreciation for the medical workers fighting the coronavirus. The Los Angeles artist decided to give paintings to the employees of a hospital that had been hit hard by COVID-19, and selected Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn. Interfaith Medical Center has 1,800 employees, and it took Gittes more than three months to complete the project, creating a painting of a flower for every nurse, custodian, security guard, doctor, administrator, and cafeteria worker. The works of art were distributed on July 13, and account representative Sheila Arthur-Smith told The Washington Post the gift means more to her than Gittes could have imagined. She was hospitalized with COVID-19 in March, and the day she was released, her sister died of the virus. "I see Michael's painting as a memorial to my sister, and I'll never forget that he created this for me from his heart," she said. [The Washington Post]

4.

Strangers help Vancouver woman find special stolen teddy bear

Mama Bear was Mara Soriano's last link to her late mother, and because of two good Samaritans, the stuffed animal is back where she belongs. Mara's mom, Marilyn Soriano, made her the teddy bear before she died of cancer, and recorded a message that was placed inside. Mara told The Canadian Press her mother's voice changed because of the cancer, and "that bear was basically the last reminder of the mom that I knew — it was her voice that I remembered growing up." Last Friday, as Mara was moving out of her Vancouver apartment, someone stole the backpack containing Mama Bear. Mara posted surveillance footage of the suspect online, and two good Samaritans contacted her on Tuesday, saying they recognized the person and had him give them the backpack. Mara was quickly reuntied with Mama Bear, and was relieved to see the stuffed animal had "not a single scratch" on her. [The Canadian Press]

5.

Bus driver surprises boy who kept her company with a new bike

When Shamika Anderson's bus broke down earlier this month in 92 degree weather, 10-year-old D.J. Fromme wasn't going to let her wait all alone. D.J. told WISN he saw Anderson, a bus driver with the Milwaukee County Transit System, sitting with her head down, so he walked up to her and said, "Hey, how are you doing?" They started chatting, and D.J. opened up to Anderson, sharing that his guardian has brain cancer and he hadn't been able to get the flat tires on his bike fixed. Anderson said she was "intrigued" by how D.J. is "still extremely positive" and "just made the best out of everything." She decided to surprise him with a new bike, and two days after their chance meeting, dropped it off at his house. "My heart just started racing and I ... couldn't speak at all," D.J. told Fox 6. The new friends now keep in touch through regular phone calls. [WISN, Fox 6]