25 Reasons for Hope in America in 2020

The Front Steps Project

During the early days of quarantine, friends Kristen Collins and Cara Soulia began photographing their Needham, Mass., community to foster connection and collect donations for small businesses. The project spread across the country (at left, the Roman family of Pelham, N.Y.), raising over $3.35 million and inspiring a photo book, out late November.

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Signs of Autumn

Leaf peepers, rejoice! It’s peak season for fall-foliage road trips. The Blue Ridge Parkway, seen here, provides 469 miles of vibrant, forget-the-news distractions through North Carolina

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Sam Smith

The 28-year-old four-time Grammy winner releases a long-awaited third album, LoveGoes, on Oct. 30.

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Accidentally Wes Anderson

Inspired by a popular Instagram account, this coffee-table book showcases joy-inducing locations across the globe that would look right at home in the stylized films of the Grand Budapest Hotel director.

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Dolly Parton’s Movie Musical

Consider this your first gift of the season: The country icon’s movie Christmas on the Square premieres Nov. 22 on Netflix.

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A Mask for Bacon Lovers

Proof that there is a face covering for every one: Hormel Foods is offering a chance to win its latest innovation—a meat-scented face mask. The best part of pork-infused PPE? For every entry, Hormel will donate one meal to Feeding America.

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Beatrice Lumpkin Casts Her Vote

In an effort that should inspire every voter, the 102-year-old Chicago resident donned a hazmat suit designed by her grandson to mail her ballot amid the pandemic. Lumpkin, a retired teacher, has voted in every presidential election since 1940, when she backed FDR.

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A Mellow Mood Goes Viral

Nathan Apodaca on a skateboard, drinking a bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry while lip-synching to Fleetwood Mac. Somehow, the bizarro TikTok video was the vibe we were all chasing. Apodaca received a new truck from Ocean Spray for his unique contribution and inspired plenty of imitators—including Mick Fleetwood himself.

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Clorox Wipes

Like a once-endangered species flourishing in the wild, these handy disinfecting wipes are (slowly) reappearing on shelves.

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The Return of the Drive-In

In response to closed theaters and delayed film releases, a charming relic of the past is providing safe social distancing. Places like Walmart have joined in, screening favorites like E.T. and The Wizard of Oz for free at 160 locations nationwide.

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The Salvation Army

The bell ringers will be out in force two months early in anticipation of a 155 percent increase in need this season. To donate, visit salvationarmyusa.org.

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Pumpkin Spice

Like cooler temperatures and changing leaves, the seasonal flavor is a sure sign of fall. This year you can find it in everything from lattes to Twinkies—even mac and cheese.

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Rick Moranis Is Back!

The Ghostbusters star, 67, reemerged after a two-decade hiatus, appearing in a Mint Mobile commercial with Ryan Reynolds and also signing on for a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids reboot with Josh Gad. Memo to Hollywood: Make up for lost time and put this man in every movie.

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Creative Costumes

This year the spookiness will require six feet of space, but judging by the costume trends emerging on social media, Halloween is definitely still on as scheduled. Expect plenty of loving tributes to Joe Exotic, Baby Yoda and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Hero Teachers

Whether instructing in person or remotely via Zoom, educators like Gladys Alvarez (waving to her fifth graders from Manchester Avenue Elementary School in Los Angeles) are finding new ways to inspire, engage and educate young people.

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A Farming Community Pulls Together

When Lane Unhjem was hospitalized in September after suffering a heart attack on his farm near Crosby, N.D., roughly 60 of his neighbors banded together to harvest his crops—1,000 acres’ worth of wheat and canola—ensuring that Unhjem’s family avoided a crippling financial loss. Wrote neighbor Don Anderson in a Facebook post: “What a great sense of pride we can all have knowing that when we face something like this, we’re not alone.”

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The Teens Solving Flint’s Water Crisis

The Flint Community Water Lab, launched with the help of local high schoolers (including Damerion Coulter, 18, pictured), assists in testing water quality in 20,000 homes, getting vital information to the community.

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Pet Adoption

In the wake of stay-athome orders, Americans are finding more time for furry friends. In March, New York-based nonprofit Foster Dogs Inc. reported a 1,000 percent increase in applications.

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The World Series

The Rays face the Dodgers at a neutral location with limited spectators, but even the pandemic couldn’t derail this matchup.

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The Earthshot Prize

Sir David Attenborough and Prince William recently announced a “Nobel Prize for environmentalism,” with $65 million to be awarded over the next decade to developers of evidence-based solutions to pressing climate challenges.

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Feed the Polls

If you don’t know when your next meal will be, standing in a long line to vote can be a daunting task. This initiative aims to serve 50,000 meals at polling places across the country, specifically those in food-insecure areas.

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The Antidote

From filmmakers Kahane Cooperman and John Hoffman, this documentary (available on demand Oct. 27) highlights how humanity and compassion are a salve to our divisive times.

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Hallmark Movie Checklost

 ’Tis the season for Hallmark originals— and for this handy app that organizes every premiere, from October Kiss to Jingle Bell Bride.

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Eric Morabito

Every year, to raise money for Shriners Hospitals for Children, this 57-year-old metrologist walks from Highland, N.Y., to hospital locations in Springfield and Boston, Mass., a distance of roughly 250 miles. Morabito solicits donations via GoFundMe and relies on the kindness of strangers for food and lodging— and after seven treks has collected more than $60,000.

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Chloe Fineman’s Impersonations

She’s a master impressionist on SNL, but Fineman’s best celebrity caricatures come on Instagram (@ChloeIsCrazy), including eeriegood send-ups of (from left to right) Drew Barrymore, Timothée Chalamet and Britney Spears. Her hilarious parodies prove that, even in dark times, nothing hits the spot like a good laugh.

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