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In preparation for the new year, former President Barack Obama encouraged Americans to look beyond the widespread negativity that seems to dominate our national conversations. He also urged the public to reflect on the many heartening stories that represent the United States at its best.
On Friday morning, Obama pointed his Twitter followers to three uplifting news stories from 2017, noting that there are countless other stories from which Americans can draw inspiration for 2018. Many feature in Yahoo News’ own list of “The unsung heroes of 2017.”
Obama shared the story of Kat Creech, a wedding planner in Houston who turned a ceremony that was postponed because of Hurricane Harvey into an opportunity to help the victims. The events for the 30 wedding guests were turned into relief activities — ultimately drawing hundreds of volunteers from across the country.
He also highlighted the actions of NFL player Chris Long. The Philadelphia Eagles defensive end donated his paychecks for his first six games of the season to fund student scholarships in his hometown, Charlottesville, Va. In October, however, he decided to use the game checks for the remainder of the football season to set up the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign, which would back educational opportunities for underprivileged youth in three cities: Philadelphia, Boston and St. Louis. He previously played for the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots.
Long responded that it was an honor to be included in Obama’s list.
The final story Obama singled out focused on Jahkil Jackson, a 10-year-old boy in Chicago who handed out 5,000 packages with socks, toiletries and snacks to people experiencing homelessness. Jackson called these “blessing bags.” In 2017, total homelessness rates went up for the first time since 2010. Rising rents and stagnant wages have created a homelessness crisis in major U.S. cities.
Obama concluded on a note similar to the one he has adopted since leaving the Oval Office, calling upon Americans to embrace their roles as citizens and to become active participants in creating change.
Obama’s successor, President Trump, was also busy on Twitter on Friday morning — although with a very different message. A few hours earlier, Trump admonished the United States Postal Service for “charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages.” He said the Postal Service should charge much more for delivering packages and that the current setup simply makes Amazon richer, while making the postal Service “dumber and poorer.”
Trump also lashed out at the Democrats’ immigration proposals. He said that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which would protect many young immigrants from deportation, cannot exist unless his border wall is constructed along the U.S.-Mexico border and the United States stamps out “chain migration” policies, under which immigrants can sponsor nonnuclear family members.
“We must protect our Country at all cost!” Trump said.
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