It's not every day that a baby is born on an Amtrak train, but it happened a couple of months ago.
A Turlock woman was on a train heading from Bakersfield to Oakland. Shortly before the Turlock/Denair stop, conductor Felicia Shaw and other Amtrak employees helped deliver her baby boy. Paramedics met the train at the stop.
The mom didn't want her name used, but said she was grateful for the help. Amtrak public-relations officer Vernae Graham said the company sent its youngest customer a box with "all kinds of baby Amtrak stuff," such as a cap, T-shirt, wooden train set, blanket, etc.
"We've never had this happen before," Vernae said, adding that the mom and baby are doing well.
David and Randy Woods, owners of Woods Furniture Gallery in Turlock, said the storms in February tore the U.S. flag hanging outside the store on a 40-foot flagpole. Worse, part of the flag got tangled inside the rope and pulley mechanism, so the Woodses couldn't get it down to replace it.
The couple apologized to customers who were upset by the torn Old Glory and thanked the Turlock Fire Department for helping to replace the flag.
Vadim Ivaschenko and his family wrote to thank Ken and Kathy Ochinero of Modesto and St. Joseph's Catholic Church.
The Ivaschenkos moved to the United States about 10 years ago. They have six children. "God has blessed us greatly and we have grown, both socially and financially in this time," Vadim said.
But they haven't forgotten the less fortunate in their homeland. They help needy relatives and other families in the Ukraine by sending money, food, clothing, shoes and other necessities through a program called The Nazarene. They met the Ochinero family, which also contributed to the effort.
"Even though the Ochineros do not know the people personally, they still open their hearts and assist however they can," Vadim said. "The help also comes from their church, St. Joseph's Catholic Church, which in 2007 helped out two needy families."
Vadim said his family attends a different church (New Life Christian Church) and denomination (Russian Christian Pentecostal), but "differences do not interfere with our friendship." Vadim expressed his thanks to the church and couple, who reached across theological boundaries to help others.
Sherri Smith of Angels Camp wrote to tell how residents there joined with the Calaveras County Services Office to collect and distribute 875 coats this winter.
At the heart of the drive were Kris Cromwell Fletcher, her husband, Jim, and grandchildren Krista Smith, 16, and Tanner Smith, 15. The Fletchers set up collection barrels at several businesses in Angels Camp, San Andreas, Arnold and elsewhere, then collected the coats daily and took them to the county office.
"There were many times that 50 or more coats were hung at one time, and two days later, they were all gone," said Kris. "I am very thankful for businesses that assisted with the drop-off barrels and all the families who helped contribute to this gracious effort."
Do you have a story about someone who has helped others or is a terrific role model? Send a brief item to Sue Nowicki at P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.