22 (and counting) Local Stories to Make You Smile

What a time to be alive, right?

The new norm isn’t all bad — especially if you consider the car parades, neighborly waves, and silly walks that have been born from it.

If you’re lucky enough to still be working, you probably know more about your co-workers’ personal lives than ever before — their kids’ names, what time of day they’re eating lunch, when they’re walking their dog. (And you’ve most likely both been video chatting pants-less all week long).

Here are a few things that made us cheese real big week after week, even on some days when our world has felt like it’s falling apart.

Week of May 18, 2020

💃 Dance like no one is watching. This cute couple was captured on camera in front of a Lake Mary shopping center where they were seen playing music and dancing in the streets. 

🏥 Highlighting the helpers. A Redditor snapped a picture of this awesome chalk mural of heroes in a hospital parking garage today. 

📚 For tuck-in time. This video of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer reading “How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?” to share with your kids for their bedtime story is super cute. 

🎨 Honoring the frontlines. Have you seen this new mural at Pig Floyd’s? It’s a total knockout and was created by local artist, Johnny Coppersnake to honor our healthcare workers. 

😷 Mask up, Orlando. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, just take a look around at all of the people sewing face masks for our community! The efforts from local groups Orlando Face Mask Strong, Mask the People and Million Mask Challenge have been remarkable. And they’re all always looking for an assist if you want to get involved! 

👶 Now this is adorable. COVID-19 has changed so much, including (temporarily) adoptions. The good news is that Zoom and other video chatting services have made it possible to still make big life changes happen and this Orlando couple was able to move forward on legally changing this baby’s last name.

🎒 A win for our seniors. These seven high school seniors just received $25,000 in scholarship money from local nonprofit Elevate Orlando.

Week of May 11, 2020

💒 Supporting each other. A local church donated $1,000 to Reanelle Walton and her family after she was laid off from her two jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Her husband’s work hours were also reduced. The Kingdom Church currently donates $1,000 a week to a lucky family. You can nominate a family here.

🍎 Neighbors helping neighbors. An unemployed substitute teacher was given a $2,500 anonymous donation on Wednesday, enough to pay almost three months of rent for her and her daughter. The donation is part of the Make Ends Meet Fund that News 6 and Addition Financial have created to help families struggling from the pandemic.

💎 Small biz fights back. For every item sold, this local jeweler takes 20 percent of the proceeds and buys a gift card from another small business. Then he gives the gift card to the customer to use as they wish. So far, he’s bought $8,000 worth of gift cards.

🏥 Returning home. Nora Haynes, an emergency nurse from Eustis, has returned home after spending a month working on the frontlines in New York City. And her story needs to be shared.

🍝 Feeding the hungry. The Arnold and Winnie Palmer Foundation has provided over 1 million meals since the pandemic started. The foundation donated meals through Feeding America to cities with canceled tournaments and 333,000 of those went to Second Harvest.

🎭 A big victory for local arts. United Arts smashed its fundraising goal last month, raising $3.2 million, nearly $1 million more than last year’s goal.

Week of May 4, 2020

🏥 On the frontlines. An Osceola County nurse moved back in with his family after staying apart for six weeks to protect them from potential exposure to COVID-19.

🙏 People helping people. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Department and News 6 donated 7,000 pounds of food to people in need in Volusia County and the Osceola County YMCA handed out 200 fresh meals.

🍎 Teachers, man. Tuesday was National Teachers Appreciation Day and these stories of your favorite teachers growing up will have you chopping onions in no time.

🐟 Four super cute spotted eagle rays were born at SeaWorld this week which is actually a big deal because they’re a near-threatened species. This article from Orlando Weekly detailing the event made us chuckle-cringe if you’re ready for a laugh.

Week of April 27, 2020

👶 For starters, this Clermont-based couple officially started their family by finalizing the adoption of their two children — and the whole process was done via Zoom, with their family watching from Indiana. Melt my heart, why don’t ya?

💘 The FDA approved the first-ever treatment for neurofibromatosis after a four-year clinical trial by our friend and fellow Orlandoan Lilly Ann! For the last three years, I’ve run the Cupid Undie Run, a national race to raise money to find a cure for NF. Our local chapter was inspired by Lily Ann, and I’m-over-the-moon excited that the FDA has moved in this direction.

🍲 The Sikh Temple in Oviedo is giving out 500 meals to Central Florida families weekly. Every Sunday, no matter religion, race, orientation — no matter what, a dozen or so volunteers are handing out fresh meals to those who show up and need it most.

😷 Community members are making masks left and right, and our local Million Mask Challenge group is currently sewing 3,000 masks for the folks in Orlando’s south Semoran corridor, a hot spot for COVID-19. Volunteers (s/o Pulptown reader Vanessa Raye Loomie) delivered 34 mask-making kits this week, increasing their army! Meanwhile, the Orlando Face Mask Strong crew (s/o Bonnie Lewis) has sewn and donated 7,000 masks already.

🚶‍♂️Just for fun: Macrame Momma shared how to make a bagpipe out of garbage bags and recorders, and it’s too fun not to share. And the best thing we’ve seen on the internet this week? That prize goes to whoever created this Silly Walks Zone that Cindy R. Murray captured on film.

Send us the things you’re feeling cheery about — especially if it’s someone going above and beyond for you or the community.

Then, crack open a local beer tonight (IPBco’s Guavacation is back on the shelves), put in a takeout order, and treat 👏 yo 👏 self. 👏

Because the world isn’t all bad and we should shout it from the rooftops.