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2009 saw its share of good examples and horrible warnings.  With mainstream media focusing so much on the horrible, discouraging, and annoying, we at Elev8 have done our best to bring to your doorstep stories that educate, uplift, and inspire us all.  We have a separate article highlighting the inspiring stories of 2009. But we wanted to make sure that we compiled a list of Good Samaritans, people some famous, some not so famous, who just extended grace to another soul. In some instances the gestures were grand, like Ludacris’ car giveaway and Jay Z’s 9/11 benefit concert. Others were simple, private, and deeply personal. Whether it was a woman who deliberately forgave the man who kidnapped her or the shopkeeper who restored a robber’s dignity by giving him the very items the latter was attempting to steal at gunpoint, each of these Good Samaritans touched our lives, captured our hearts, and made us a little more hopeful about the world in which we live.  Each one reminded me that I share this planet with fellow human beings to whom I am to be an extension of God’s love. Read through our list and enjoy the inspiration.

Be blessed Family!

10. Jay Z

The superstar performed a benefit concert on 9/11 at New York’s Madison Square Gardens. One hundred percent of the proceeds  from ticket sales and concert merchandise went directly to the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund.

9. Ludacris

First and foremost, kudos to Luda for having the insight to establish a non-profit foundation in the first place. Further congrats to him for teaming up with a local dealership to literally give back to community. After screening over 4000 essays, the rapper and his team selected 20 hard-working, equally deserving people to receive a car to help them get to and from work. It would be a great gesture any time – but in this economy it was golden.

8. Shaq

Despite his own crumbling marriage, the basketball star turned reality T.V. took time to comfort the grieving father of Shaniya Davis, the young girl sold into prostitution by her own mother. Shaniya’s short life ended tragically at the hands of  Mario Andrette McNeil. As the details of her ordeal surfaced, they broke our hearts. Shaq, however, did more than grieve, he paid for the little girl’s funeral, which lifted a small part of the burden from her father’s shoulders.

7. Woman Who Gave Away Her Ticket To MJ Memorial

Question: What do a woman with an extra ticket and a man from Compton have in common? Answer: Two things, prayer and a love for the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. The woman prayed for tickets, which she received. The man prayed that he would be able to attend MJ’s packed out memorial service. The strangers met outside the service. She gave him her extra ticket and made his day. A prepared bystander had the presence of mind to interview the pair on the spot. I discovered the video and posted it to Elev8.  This story is a great reminder of the importance of small, kind gestures.

6. The Good Folks Who Returned $275,000 To Armored Truck Driver

It’s a dream come true. You walk out of the barber shop after a fresh new haircut to discover what appears to be bags of trash on the street. You approach the bags prepared to do your civic duty and cart them off to a local dumpster. Upon opening the bag you discover hundreds of thousands of dollars! What do you do? If you are David Jenks, Tim Taylor, or Hanson Herring, you round up as many bags as you can find and return them to the poor sap who accidentally dropped them on his armored truck route!

5. Road Rage Victim Who Shocked The Court

You are 70-years-old. An enraged driver and two of his relatives pull you out of your car, beat you so bad that you’re rushed to the hospital missing eight teeth, with a cut on your upper lip requiring 40 stitches, and your hearing aid crushed into your inner ear.  The law intervenes, your attackers are arrested and you have your day in court.

Sadly, this story is not that uncommon. What is uncommon, however, is that the 70-year-old, Steve Bonfanti, received an apology from his attackers, a mother and her two sons, who received jail time. What is shocking is not only did Mr. Bonfanti forgive his attackers in open court, but he  gifted $41,000.00 their children/grandchildren, which is to be held in trust for the little people for their future college eduction. I don’t know about you, but Mr. Bonfanti’s generosity puts me to shame.

4. The Shopkeeper Who Converted A Robber

This video shows how powerful it is to acknowledge the humanity of a person in need. Long Island shopkeeper, Mohammad Sohail, is a perfect model of compassion. I won’t ruin his example with a lot of words. Watch and learn.

3. Marilyn Mock And Her Angel Foundation

Marilyn Mock personifies the name Good Samaritan. While attending a foreclosure auction, a weeping woman caught her eye. Marilyn learned that the woman had lost her home and attended the auction to grieve. Touched by this woman’s plight, Marilyn did the ultimate, she purchased the woman’s home at auction and gave it back to her. But Marilyn’s sense of duty did not stop there. She went on to form the Marilyn Mock Angel Foundation, which exists for one purpose, to help people avoid foreclosure. Marilyn’s non-profit has gone one to help many other people in need. Her story will both challenge and inspire you.
The recession struck everyone hard – renters and their landlords were no exception. Ed Pierce, a retired stock-broker, who had made a decent living for himself, which included acquiring several rental units, found himself struggling to make his mortgage payments when some of his tenants found themselves suddenly unemployed and unable to pay rent. Instead of serving them a pay or quit notice, Ed did the unthinkable. He got a job at Walgreen’s in the photo department so that his tenants could live rent-free while they sought gainful employment. God bless Ed. His story will remind you what’s really important.

If anyone ever had a reason to hold a grudge, it is Magdaline Makola. Last December this courageous nurse was kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a car for 10 frightening days and nights in freezing weather. If that weren’t enough, her abductor had the gall to use the woman’s credit cards to fund his own Christmas shopping spree. After Makola was found and her kidnapper later tried and convicted, her pastor, Reverend Jim McNaughton, from Livingston Baptist Church spoke to the media on Makola’s behalf, calling her a “pillar of strength” and revealing that she had forgiven the man who had committed this depraved crime against her. All I can say is, “Wow.” Talk about exhibiting the love of Christ.