"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way." ~ Napoleon Hill
Derreck Kayongo, a native of Uganda, was surprised during his first trip to the United States because his hotel room was supplied with new bars of soap every day, even though the old soap was barely used. The experience gave Kayongo the idea for the Atlanta-based Global Soap Project, which collects lightly used hotel soap, recycles it to create new soap, and sends it to impoverished nations worldwide, where it is helping to improve personal hygiene, prevent disease and lower child mortality.
Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner
Twin sisters Helen Ashe and Ellen Turner grew up poor, but their parents always taught them to be generous with whatever they had. In 1986, the sisters founded the Love Kitchen in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the basement of a small church. Their goal was to provide meals for those they call the five Hs: the hungry, the homeless, the helpless, the hopeless and the homebound. That first day, they prepared 22 meals. Today, they serve more than 2,000 meals every week and the sisters, now in their mid-80s, are still going strong.
Mozart could play and name notes on the piano at age 3; Alma Deutscher could do it when she was 2. Mozart was writing songs when he was 5 years old; Deutscher started composing when she was 4. Deutscher has mastered both the piano and violin, and now she has written a short opera. She’s only 7 years old. Most musical prodigies excel at playing music—that’s their gift—but it is Deutscher’s unusual ability to create and improvise classical music that really makes her stand out.
When she was in the third grade, Katie Stagliano planted a cabbage seedling as part of a school project and, with special care and attention, grew a 40-pound cabbage. She decided to donate the remarkable vegetable to a local soup kitchen, and she was so moved by the friendliness and gratitude of the hungry people and staff at the charity that she was inspired to do more. She founded Katie’s Krops, asked local organizations for help with fundraising, got her school involved in growing and harvesting vegetables to donate to the hungry, and enlisted the help of a master gardener. Today, at age 14, Katie is still actively engaged in the fight against hunger.
When Susan Boyle appeared as a contestant on the TV show “Britain’s Got Talent” in April 2009, she was 48 years old, had a thick Scottish accent, and her only singing experience had been in church choirs and karaoke bars. Lack of oxygen during her difficult birth had left her with a severe learning disability, and at school other kids had bullied her and called her “Susie Simple.” Despite her modest appearance and experience, Boyle won the talent competition and received a recording contract. Her debut album became the UK’s best-selling album of all time, and three years after her initial television appearance her estimated net worth was £22 million.
Stephen Wiltshire, a British architectural artist with autism, is famous for his remarkable ability to create detailed drawings of cities from memory, often after viewing them only once during a brief helicopter ride. Wiltshire was mute as a child and didn’t speak fully until he was 9 years old. He spoke his first word, “paper,” at age 5, when his teachers took away his art supplies to force him to ask for them. In January 2006, Queen Elizabeth II made Wiltshire a Member of the Order of the British Empire, in recognition of his services to the art world.
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