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Giving in Focus: Americans Give Back

Aired December 25, 2009 - 13:00   ET



TOM FOREMAN, HOST: Welcome to Washington, D.C.'s Union Station where over the years millions of people have come and gown with their gifts of the holiday season. I'm Tom Foreman and this is 'Giving in Focus,' a gift to you from the fine photojournalists here at CNN. It's a collection of stories from all over and of all sorts, told by the people involved and captured with nothing but a camera and a microphone.

And we begin with a young man, a very young man named Justin Martin up in New Jersey. A few years ago he became concerned when he heard that not every child had a teddy bear as he did. And he set out to solve that problem. Jonathan O'Beirne has the bear's tale.

JUSTIN MARTIN, DONATING BEARS TO CHILDREN: We went to a lot of Build a Bears and they didn't - they didn't believe that a 6-year-old boy could build a thousand bears.

I think most people should have a bear. Some people want them to maybe play with or sleep with, different things.

Stuffing goes inside this little tiny hole. We put it in that machine. And when someone uses it, it comes out of the little tube over there.

When I was 5 years old I asked my dad if everyone in the world had a bear like mine.

QUIN MARTIN, FATHER: I said, 'No, Justin, everybody doesn't have a bear like you do.' He asked me if he could give away all his old bears.

J. MARTIN: He said yes.

Q. MARTIN: And he said, 'Well, could I go make some bears?'

J. MARTIN: So my dad said how many. And I said 1,000.

Q. MARTIN: It was his idea. And I'm getting a little choked up right now. Excuse me. Every time I talk about it, I can't emphasize how proud I am of him. He's doing a really good job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have kids come in all the time and say, 'Hey, you know, I want 100 bears. I want ten bears. Or I want a thousand bears.' So we're sort of used to that request, you know. In this case it was real.

So we're like, 'Oh, OK, so you really want 1,000 bears?'

Right now we have about 411 bears. With the bears he made today, it's about 460, 470. We have over a month to make about 450 more bears.

He really takes pride and interest in every bear. If he doesn't like the outfit he doesn't think the kids are going to like the outfit.

J. MARTIN: It's delivery day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every student here today is going to get a Build a Bear, decorated by Justin.

Q. MARTIN: Two thousand bears in two years. It's about him, and it's about what he started. It's kind of become like a little movie.

J. MARTIN: I just like giving the bears out.

Q. MARTIN: As long as he wants to do the 1,000 bears we're definitely committed to the 1,000 bears every year he wants to do this.

FOREMAN: More profound problems facing poor children often require more grown-up hands to help. Such is the case with a retired schoolteacher in Los Angeles. She became aware of a trouble facing homeless children, that they were falling further and further behind in their studies. So one day she walked into a park, and she began to teach for free. And the rest, as photojournalist Gregg Canes found, is a lesson for us all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are 1.5 million children that are homeless in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are 290,000 kids homeless in California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Homeless children are the most vulnerable children in our society.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, it is a lot going on. You have -- you're struggling to do good in school and you're worried about where you're going to stay, where you're going to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Homeless children move around all the time, sometimes three or four, five times a year. The longer they're homeless, the further behind they fall in school.

ANGES STEVENS, FOUNDER, SCHOOL ON WHEELS: It's the job of every child in America to go to school and learn. It is also the job of every homeless child.

Now, out of all these schools you've been to you like this one the best? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The kids were making fun of me because they have beds and I didn't.

UNDIENTIFIED MALE: Homeless children do not keep up in school, and they fall through the cracks. Many of them will become homeless themselves. Homeless School on Wheels is a nonprofit organization that provides free academic tutoring for homeless kids from kindergarten up until 12th grade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many you got all together.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we have volunteer tutors that go to where the child is living at: either the shelter, the motel or a foster group home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. My name is Rachel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a documentary filmmaker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a chief financial officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been a volunteer for three years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it's my first year as a tutor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She helps you understand and tells you -- encourages you to do good in school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My tutor is like a friend to me and a teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Volunteer tutors are the heart and soul of School on Wheels. To help them with their school work but to tell them that they can be successful, that just because they're in this situation now doesn't mean that they always have to be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm doing better in all my subjects and I'm getting straight "A's."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Joy, and I am 10 years old. And when I grow up, I want to be a lawyer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Ali. I'm 9 years old. When I grow up, I want to be a doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Miranda. I'm 14 years old. I want to be a crime scene investigator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Moses. I'm 5. I want to be a rock star.

FOREMAN: In a moment, finding the spirit of plenty in empty bowls and looking for hope to fill empty boxes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we can't fill an age group we can't fill that order.

FOREMAN: When "Giving in Focus" continues.




FOREMAN: As we all rush around tending to our holiday shopping and visiting family and friends, it is easy to forget that there are people who can do none of that. They are bound to their homes by illness or age or other problems. Thank goodness there are folks who bring the warmth of the season and year-around care to their doors. Here in D.C. a program called Food and Friends and one man in particular caught the attention of photojournalist David Ruff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Food and Friends provides a service that's unique in the area. We provide home-delivered meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other illnesses.

How you doing, darling? Good to see you.

We do this without charge.

You feeling good?


DAVID PEIFFER, FOOD AND FRIENDS VOLUNTEER: I'm David Peiffer. I live in Washington, D.C. I've been delivering for Food and Friends for eight years.

That would be five meals for two days.

Washington, D.C., has the highest rate per capita of AIDS in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can use this vegetable ragout.

PEIFFER: They have specific nutritional needs, and our 13,000 volunteers and 50 staff meet those needs.

Next up is Amy. Amy Barrelson (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: David is a remarkable individual.

PEIFFER: Hello, sunshine. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He makes relationships with those clients.


PEIFFER: Good to see you, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My best friend. Come on in.

PEIFFER: How are you doing?


PEIFFER: When I first met Amy about five years ago, there was an immediate spark between the two of us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is hard to be alone all day. We know each other. He's someone to talk to. He's interesting. He cares. David is more than just some guy that comes to deliver food.

PEIFFER: It's so great to see you, Renaldo (ph).

It was 1990 when I got tested for HIV and, unfortunately, it came back positive. Once I received the news, I wanted to give back a little bit before I was -- before I was gone. What you put out there comes back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To have David standing at the door as a compassionate person, as a person who really understands their circumstances.

PEIFFER: See you next week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know probably in my future I'll -- there will be a time when I need Food for Friends.

Another Thursday down.

In the beginning you kind of do it to help somebody else out, and then all of a sudden, these blessings keep coming back, showering you...

God bless.

... more and more. The more you give, the more you get back.

FOREMAN: Our nation's capital for all of its grandeur is home to a great many families who suffer from hunger and need. One city found, in fact, this is the third worst city in the country for empty bowls that ought to be full. So not far from here the Corcoran College of Art and Design has teamed up with a group called So Others Might Eat or SOME to create art to raise both money and awareness. Photojournalist Jeremy Moorhead is in the studio.

REV. JOHN ADAMS, PRESIDENT, SOME.ORG: I'm making a wonderful bowl to help raise money for feeding hungry people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trim the excess off.

ADAMS: We're at Corcoran College here at the Corcoran Art Gallery. Very first time I'm making a bowl in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I get some fresh clay.

ADAMS: And in March, we'll sell these bowls for our Empty bowls event to help support feeding the hungry.

Hunger is in our midst here in the nation's capital. We have 9,000 homeless people. SOME serves well over 1,000 meals a day to people.


ADAMS: Our goal is to walk the journey with people, to help people become independent. The holidays remind us of, certainly, giving thanks for what we have.


ADAMS: But also the opportunities that we might have for reaching out to people that don't have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anthropologists say that the earliest bowls were a mimicry of two hands holding together.

ADAMS: I can't think of a better way to participate in' feeding hungry people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two hands or a stomach to give, to receive, and to hold and to consume.

ADAMS: That's a very artistic symbol. We're really grateful for this partnership that we have this year. Great artists and great people here that are interested in -- in people in the city.

JEFF HERRITY, CORCORAN STUDENT: I mean, it's representing having nothing, and so I think, prior to it being full, there's so many different things that can go into it.

So, today we're going to make upwards of about 500 bowls. You get the clay centered, and then you start making the bowl form.

It's good to work with our community in any way we can. I mean, not everybody can donate, so this is a great way for people to participate and contribute to an organization.

I think it's just really important as an artist to keep giving back to the community. It's not just a gift for somebody at Christmas. It's a gift for somebody you don't really know. And I think that's what's probably the most important thing, that we're really making this for somebody that needs it.

FOREMAN (voice-over): In a moment, spreading warmth a stitch at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a little bit of this quilt gives them any kind of healing, that's what it's all about.

FOREMAN: When "Giving in Focus" continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, there, everybody. I'm T.J. Holmes. A quick look at some of the top stories of the hour.

I've got some video a lot of people have been scratching their heads at. Check it out: a woman in the red you're going to see. She's going to hop up and hop over. There she is, making a move heading towards, yes, the pope. This happened last night at the Vatican.

Security guards pounced on the lady, not before, though, she managed to get close enough to grab a hold of the 82-year-old pontiff, got him down to the floor. He wasn't hurt. Didn't mention this incident during his Christmas Eve mass. It went on like nothing happened. The Vatican reviewing their security.

It's still Christmas day in the war zone right now, 9 p.m. in Baghdad. On the left what you're seeing, the annual holiday dinner for U.S. service members employed there, and on the right, carols and candles in Kabul, Afghanistan. Christmas day chapel services at Camp Eckerts (ph).


BOWE BERGDAHL, KIDNAPPED SOLDIER: My name is Bowe Bergdahl. I was born on March 28, 1986, in the city of Sun Valley, in the state of Idaho in the United States of America.


HOLMES: Now what you're seeing here, folks, is what the U.S. military is calling a horrible act by the Taliban: releasing this tape of a captured soldier on Christmas day. Private Bowe Bergdahl is his name, disappeared in June. His family released a statement from Idaho today, pleading for his release and telling him to, quote, "stay strong."

Well, take a look at this video now. Jackknife, big rigs, grounded planes, buried cars. That is what's up on Christmas day across a big chunk of central United States. A slow-moving storm has been dumping heaps of snow in plain states and the Midwest. Hundreds of people stuck in shelters or stuck on the road.

Those are some of the top stories of the hour. Now we'll get you back to "Giving in Focus."


FOREMAN: If you've ever been sick at Christmas, you know how bad that can feel and you can imagine just how devastating it must be to have a child facing a serious illness.

Up in Baltimore a young girl faced just that problem and she was helped through it by the good doctors at Johns Hopkins and the fine folks at the Ronald McDonald House. Now her family is giving thanks and giving help to others, the gift of clean air. Photojournalist Oliver Janney has their story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first time I met the Chenaille family was actually walking through the Ronald McDonald House. I heard somebody playing the piano. At that moment he was contemplating where he would stay when his child, Kathryn, was discharged from Johns Hopkins Hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was running up a slide in flip-flops and tripped, and fell and got this really huge bruise right here immediately.

BILL CHENAILLE, KATHRYN'S FATHER: I knew something was going on when three white robed doctors walked into the room and closed the door. And then they went on to explain, "We think it's aplastic anemia."

DR. ROBERT BRODSKY, JOHNS HOPKINS KIMMEL CENTER: Basically a failure to produce blood.

B. CHENAILLE: The night that she finally started understanding how serious she was, then she looked up to me, and one of the tucking in good night kiss conversations, she just stopped and looked at me and asked me if she was going to die.

They're just wiping out the immune system with high doses of chemotherapy. And when that reboots, the body develops a brand-new immune system.

BRODSKY: The most dangerous is infection. And that's the leading cause of death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were ready to release her shortly after two weeks, and so we were a little unprepared and scrambled to get into the Ronald McDonald House.

MARIANNE ROWAN-BRAUN, RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE, CHARITIES OF BALTIMORE: This is a typical room that a family might stay in for months.

B. CHENAILLE: I also told the doctors that we will do everything in our power to keep that room's air as pure as possible. And I went to Home Depot and got some air purifiers.

BRODSKY: There are particles in the air that these patients can -- can get sick from.

UNDIENTIFIED FEMALE: So they said, "We think maybe you could go home."

B. CHENAILLE: She's living a normal girl's life now.

KATHRYN CHENAILLE, PATIENT: Should I go like this or like that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kathryn actually contacted the manufacture of Secure Air in Chicago and asked them if they would help her donate air filters to their home. Lo and behold, Tom Novicki (ph), national sales manager, received her call and decided to donate these air filters on behalf of Kathryn to every room in our home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That for her is the exciting thing, is actually being able to hand them over to the individual families and seeing how, you know, each individual kid that is going to benefit from.

FOREMAN: Kathryn's goal is provide air purifiers for each bedroom in every Ronald McDonald House coast-to-coast. If you would like to help her or any of the folks in these stories go to for all of the details.

Last year photojournalist Bob Crowley up in Boston went to a Toys for Tots program that was in dire straits, running out of toys with the holidays closing in fast.

These bins should be full of the toys in their respective age groups and, as you can see, there's absolutely nothing in them.

FOREMAN: His story helped make a difference and solve those difficulties up there. So this year he went back to see how the toys and tots are faring in these difficult times.

SGT. CLINT SCHRIBNER, BOSTON TOYS FOR TOTS: The Marine Corps' mission for Toys for Tots is to collect and distribute toys for needy children in our local areas. We have approximately 700 total campaigns. They are fighting battles but in a different way. We're fighting the poverty battle here in the United States.

BETTY WHALEN, TOYS FOR TOTS VOLUNTEER We have a lot of toys. We're using them up rapidly. We're filling orders like crazy. They're delivering on the 18th of December. They'll be here between 10 and 11 in the morning. They go out as fast as they come in.

We've run out of some toys, but overall we're doing better than last year.

Can you leave that one there?

As soon as we sort this we'll start making up orders, and it will be gone.

Well, empty this, and he can pull this out first.

Ideally, they would be full of toys that we would just pick from to fill the orders but they're not. They're not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a problem every year, running out of toys at this time of the year, but eventually we get the orders out.

WHALEN: Yes. Down to the wire usually. It's been tough the last couple of years. It's tough for everybody with the economic climate the way it is. You know, home losses, job losses, lack of funds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very important to keep our boxes full because we can't get orders out to people and organizations who need them in time for Christmas. If you keep donating, even one small toy is wonderful. But everybody needs to get involved in doing it. So our boxes are not empty.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The sights and sounds of happiness in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They put on a nice show.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This has been the most rewarding volunteerism I've ever done.

FOREMAN: Mothers helping mothers and far-away children in the most personal way. Stay with us.



Reporter: There may be no need that is fundamental than the hunger of an infant, and yet, in some very poor places, mothers are so malnourished there's very little they can do to help their own children. That's where a unique program comes into play, calling on nursing mothers far and wide to truly give of themselves. Photojournalist Tawanda Scott chased that story down in New York and Pennsylvania.

YAEL WEISS, DONATES BREAST MILK (singing): If you're happy and you know it clap your hands.

(SPEAKING) I'm Yael Weiss. I have a 13-month-old, Lily.

Want to open the freezer?

UNDITIFIED FEMALE: My name is Nicole McGucken (ph),and I have a 16-month-old daughter, Ella.

WEISS: I'm very passionate about breast feeding. I knew I wanted to nurse her exclusively. So I started pumping, and very quickly my freezer filled up with a lot of frozen milk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I realized, I don't know what we're going to do with all this milk. I'm producing it faster than she can drink it. My freezer was just filled, top to bottom, with frozen milk bags.

WEISS: First thing I did was Google "donate breast milk," and the first thing that popped up was

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I looked over their Web site and knew that once I was reading about how they were sending the milk to South Africa and helping these malnourished infants, I knew that it was something that I wanted to do.

WEISS: They send somebody, a nurse to draw blood, make sure that you qualify and you're healthy enough to donate, and they ship you a cooler.

I've probably shipped about four or five coolers full of frozen breast milk, over 300 or 400 ounces worth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would guesstimate that I've donated about 1,000, maybe a little bit over 1,000 ounces of breast milk.

WEISS: Breast milk is the healthiest for babies. It has the mother's natural antibodies and it -- you pass along your immunities to the babies, so especially for babies that are born in these critical situations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As I'm pumping every day, I'm picturing, you know, these little children, these little infants in South Africa receiving this breast milk and thriving on it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is so satisfying to give this milk, knowing that I will never meet the people that are -- the babies that are benefiting from it. This has probably been the most rewarding and gratifying volunteerism I've ever done. You're not writing a check. You're not, you know, buying books for little kids or giving money to a homeless man on the street. I mean, it's very personal. I spent a lot of time thinking about that and it's been very rewarding.


FOREMAN: Now, while some of the milk is donated to needy mothers and children, there's also a commercial aspect to this project. A California-based company processes and ships to Africa at least a quarter of the milk at no charge to the charity or to the donors. Then that company buys the remaining three quarters of the milk from the charity, processes and fortifies it and sells it to neonatal intensive care units all across the country.

Giving can come from unexpected places, for example, deep in the winter woods. We follow photojournalist Jung Park into the wilds of New Jersey for that story.


HELENE G. MEISSNER, DIR., NORWESCAP FOOD BANK: Les Giese and Hunters Helping the Hungry provide a very valuable service to us at the food bank. In our quest to aid in hunger relief, we are always looking for a good variety of nutritious food and the venison that we get from Les and the other hunters is invaluable to our agencies.

LES GIESE, FOUNDER, HUNTERS HELPING THE HUNGRY: Hunters Helping the Hungry is entirely volunteers, people who enjoy hunting, the outdoor sports, and we're trying to do some good, provide much-needed protein to the hungry people across New Jersey. And that's all we're about.

SISTER M. MICHAELITA POPOVICE, PROGRAM DIR., WARREN BASIC MATERIAL NEEDS: Our clients are grateful to the Hunters Helping the Hungry. We have many clients that come in, and I can say that every client that leaves our building with their bags of food, and particularly if they receive the venison, are extremely grateful to the hunters.

GIESE: The first step in the Hunters Helping the Hungry program is the hunters donating their time and money to harvest deer.

This is at least 100 pounds, maybe 120. It'll dress out probably 40, maybe 50 pounds of venison for the hungry.

JOHN PERSON, BUTCHER, OWNER, GAMEBUTCHER: When the hunter harvests the deer, he will bring it to our establishment here and donate it. We then will process the deer, wrap it, label it properly, and put in a box. And then Norwescap Food Bank from Phillipsburg will take the frozen venison to their establishment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our aim has always been to provide as much nutritious food as possible, and venison is a great example of a food that is high in protein, low in fat. And it's the kind of food we want to promote as a healthy alternative to our clients.

GIESE: We're happy to do this. It makes us feel good. We've giving back. It is very enjoyable to be out here and do this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are so grateful to Les Giese and others who support this program, and I wish them tremendous success and I hope that they continue to do this for many years to come because we know what an impact it has on people in need in our community, and we think it's a wonderful program.


FOREMAN: In just a bit, folks that won't say quit as long as there is a quilt to be made and someone who needs it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can say thank you this way.


FOREMAN: And in the bike shop, that's bamboo. More importantly, it's the solution to a problem.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not just, you know, giving them fish. We are teaching them how to fish.


FOREMAN: When "Giving in Focus" comes back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, hello, everybody. Merry Christmas to you, and a white Christmas for a lot of folks and more white than they would like because a slow-moving storm dumping a whole lot of snow in the Plains states and the Midwest, hundreds of people stuck in shelters, also stuck on the road. Oklahoma is among the hardest hit places. The governor there declared a statewide state of emergency.

It's a much different scene in Hawaii. Yes, aloha to the Obamas, the first family there in Hawaii. Here is a picture of their arrival. They got no Senate health care debate to worry about here, no news reporters -- well, a few news reporters chasing them around still, but still no snow, as well, first family there spending Christmas Day on the island where the president was born.

Also, a much different scene here. This was supposed to be a Christmas Eve mass, and it went on without a hitch. Well, there was a bit of a hitch. That red lady jumping over that railing there, attacking the pope. They say attacking. This happened last night at the Vatican. Security guards pounced not before the woman was able to grab hold of the pope was able to pull him down to the floor, 82-year- old man there. He wasn't really hurt, didn't even mention it during his Christmas Eve mass. The Vatican now, of course, reviewing their security.

Also, folks in six Western states need to check fridge and freezers. An E. Coli outbreak prompted a big meat recall, 248,000 pounds of beef put out by National Steak and Poultry in October. Now, some of this stuff sold under that name. Others to look out for, EGN, KRM, Carino's, as well as Moe's Beefsteak.

Just some of our top stories there. Want to get you back now to "Giving in Focus."

FOREMAN: The holidays can be a particularly trying time for some military families. Maybe they have a family member who is at war or one who has just returned and is struggling in some way. So many new veterans have appeared in our midst in the past few years that quilters all over have taken up their cause. Photojournalist John Bena caught up with just such a group as they try to spread warmth from New York to Maryland.


CHRISTINA POWELL, Q.U.I.L.T.S. MEMBER: This is my stash. I have a lot of pinks, purples. These are kind of neutrals. This is my sewing machine. These are all threads.

I caught the bug. It's been love at first sight, and I have been quilting for probably about 25 years. For me, it's a -- you know, it's a mental restoration place. I'll just walk in my sewing room and pick up something. I'd rather be quilting.

In the salter (ph) quilts in particular, there's a lot of gratefulness and thankfulness that somebody actually is protecting my freedom. Where these quilts are going, they were injured somehow.

OK. There we go.

I don't like seeing so many young people go away and come back wounded.

And you put the loop here and go underneath it there. Unfortunately, right now, it's just a fact of life, and I try to do what I can.

You're going to do that corner. You've already done these three, and we're going to do these two.

This is the finished quilt. We're going to fold it so we can pack it in the box. Are the afghans going to go this time?

PAT TERRY, QUILTS FOR INJURED SOLDIERS: Yes. This particular Quilts for Soldiers project has distributed over 9,000 quilts, a lot of injured soldiers.

I collect the quilts and pack them up and send them down to the person in Maryland who distributes them then to either Bethesda or Andrews Air Force Base.

PFC JONATHAN WINKER, WISCONSIN NATIONAL GUARD: My name is Jonathan Winker. I'm coming from Iraq. I've been in the National Guard for three years. This is my first deployment. My father served in the Marine Corps, as well as my uncle. It actually makes me feel pretty good that I can do something that I enjoy doing and I can help other people at the same time. I think it's a great way to say thank you to the wounded soldiers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This one was made especially for you.

WINKER: It looks like a lot of time went into that. It's amazing. Thank you for your service to our country. This is a small token of my appreciation for all you've been through. My prayers for you are contained in this quilt. This will actually probably go into my bedroom so that it's close to me all the time.

POWELL: Our servicemen need to know that it's not just their family and friends that are supporting them, there's a whole country rooting for them, and I'm one of them.


FOREMAN: Everyone knows about the many years that the USO has spent entertaining troops. But what happens when veterans long since put their most active days behind them? In the aptly named Lebanon, Pennsylvania, photojorunalist Rod Griola found a group of women are still lifting spirits and putting on a show for those who have served.


SANDY NEVIUS, TROUPE KISMET: We're here at the Lebanon Veterans Hospital. And this is the 26th year that our group has come down for Christmas entertainment and party. Everyone calls it belly dancing, but it really is an extension of dances from all over the Mideast. My name is Sandy Nevius and I'm here with Troupe Kismet. We come here because these guys, they sacrificed for us. It's just one way for us to show our appreciation for their dedication and service.

DEBRA MITCHELL, TROUPE KISMET: Some of them were deployed to Turkey and areas where there were belly dancing and said, It's exactly how I remembered it. For other soldiers who have not been deployed to such areas, I think they just enjoy all the movement and the sparkles.

TODD WATERS, U.S. MARINE CORPS VETERAN: They got us all out of our rooms and down here and thinking about other things while our families aren't here with us. And you know, they put on a nice show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're good. But I can't get up and dance with them.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have two dance groups here, Troupe Kismet, who is the one that's been coming down here for so many years. We now have another group called Yalla Habibi (ph). The youngest is 16 up to 62 -- 62, yes.

At the end, every resident here gets an opportunity to have their picture taken. Some of the guys here have, like, four different pictures from years. One thing that I wish is that people from all over the country to come and spend some time with the veterans. You know, just do it. It'll make you feel good. It'll make the veterans feel well, too.


FOREMAN: Coming up: They don't make heroes like that anymore. No, they make them exactly like that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The culmination of his amazing career was finding the last survivor at Ground Zero.


FOREMAN: It's a dog's incredible life and legacy. Plus...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, there's James (ph)! He's right there with his eyes moving.


FOREMAN: The little engines that could and do every holiday season.


FOREMAN: Many of us give gifts to our pets over the holiday season, but this next story is the tale of a remarkable dog that gave so much to us. In the wake of 9/11, this particular German shepherd named Trackr helped find people buried in the rubble of the explosions. Over the past year, Trackr died, but not before his trainer won a contest to have him cloned. Out in southern California, photojournalist John Torigoe shows us the results.


JAMES SYMINGTON, TRACKR'S HANDLER: We arrived at Ground Zero within 14 hours of the towers collapsing. K-9 resources were in short supply, and we immediately began searching for survivors. Sometime late on the morning of September 12th, Trackr got a hit indicating that somebody alive was buried beneath the surface. These rescue workers later pulled a woman, the last survivor, from the rubble. And I'm extremely proud of the role that Trackr played in her recovery.

Trackr initially was trained as a police dog, trained to find live people, evidence and drugs. He helped locate hundreds of people, recovered over a million dollars worth of stolen gods. But the culmination of his amazing career was finding the last survivor at ground zero.

When I first met Trackr, when we first started working together, cloning wasn't even an option. So it wasn't even a consideration until one day I happened to see a TV report and they were talking about a cloning context. Bioworks (ph) International was the company that was responsible for the cloning context.

In June, I received not one but five amazing replicas of Trackr. I tried to choose the names to pay tribute who Trackr was. There's Trust, who's very focused, Solace, who's extremely curious, there's Valor, who's extremely courageous, Prodigy, who's the problem solver, extremely intelligence, and then there's and Deja Vu. He's the cuddler. He's the lover of the group. All extraordinary dogs.

Meeting those puppies for the first time was amazing. It was moving. But it was also bittersweet because, sadly, Trackr passed away in April, peacefully at our home at the age of 16.

I respect that cloning's not for everyone. I train, foster and rescue dogs, and I strongly encourage anybody who can provide a good home for a dog to go out and adopt a dog from a shelter or a rescue group.

This is Trust. He's the oldest.

Team Trackr is not about holding onto the past, it's about continuing a legacy.

I've launched the Team Trackr Foundation, an international not- for-profit organization dedicated to providing elite canine search- and-rescue groups to the United States and around the world, in essence, canine teams without borders. The launching of the Team Trackr Foundation is simply my way of continuing an extraordinary journey of one remarkable dog. And I owe Trackr that.

There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about Trackr, but I don't know if the puppies contribute to that or not. I just think he always had an always will have a special place in my heart, and these puppies are certainly going to compliment that.


FOREMAN: If you're looking for a good buy this holiday season, you might want to think about a longstanding tradition in Atlanta. There the National Council of Jewish Women has long been bringing together bargain hunters for the good of many people who can barely afford the basics. And like a great designer outfit, it works. Eddie Cortez made it through the madness of Bargainata (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today is our Bargainata sale. We have it twice a year, once each season. It's a major sale that is a community service within itself because we provide clothing at a very cheap, reasonable price, quality clothing, gently used.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where's the dressing room?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got a rush over there for the couture section.there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bargainata is a fabulous Atlanta institution, and I mean institution in a good way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have everything. We have men's and women's things. We have a few houseware things. We have fur coats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are some incredible deals over there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a Badgely Mischka (ph), which is a very high-end shoe. I want to say it probably could be in the thousand realm.

ELLEN WEINSTEIN, NCJW ATLANTA PRESIDENT: This benefits women and children's advocacy and support community services that we do in the Atlanta area. We help shelters.

DIANA COHEN, VOLUNTEER: The Genesis Shelter, which is a homeless shelter for newborns and their families, to keep them together as one unit.

LORI ALTMAN, VOLUNTEER: Schools, literacy, advocacy, supporting women and children and families. Any kids stuff and any teen stuff, we got out and we gave to different shelters all over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anybody who buys a product here is actually helping us purchase supplies for students and schools. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did get the dress. I did. I don't know where I'm going to wear it, but I bought it.


MICHELLE LIGHT, VOLUNTEER: Our biggest customer today paid $597.06. She bought a mink coat and a pair of pants and three jackets. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is one organization where the money doesn't go for administrative costs. It goes right into the community service projects.

WEINSTEIN: It's definitely giving back to a community that is in need, and we want to take care of our community. That's really what NCJW is all about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't beat the prices, all for a good cause.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Enjoy. Thank you for coming.


FOREMAN: Many times, the thought really does count more than the gift. And when you can have a thought about a gift that can truly help others, then you are on to something. That's the case with some bicycle builders in Brooklyn who saw a problem far away and figured out a way to use their ingenuity and their expertise to help. Photojournalist Bob Bikel takes us there.


JUSTIN AGUINALDO, BIKE DESIGNER, BAMBOO BIKE PROJECT: My name is Justin Aguinaldo, and I am a bike messenger and bike designer. It's very stressful.

Look out! Look out!

There's a lot to worry about. There's a lot to be afraid of. I ride around all day. And I wouldn't want it any other way, really. I have messengered on aluminum. I've messengered on steel. I've messengered on different types of steel. Now I ride a bamboo bike.

Bamboo bikes are important because bamboo bikes are probably the cheapest way to make bikes. Steel bikes right now are made in China and they're sent to Ghana, for instance -- cost over $100. There's many things that factor into that high cost. Making the bamboo bikes locally addresses a lot of them.

I went to Ghana to do some logistics for the factory that we're hoping to start. It was really interesting to see how people lived and to see how the bicycle sort of impacted them.

We actually want people to be the engineers.

MARTY ODLIN, ENGINEER, BAMBOO BIKE PROJECT: You're able to reduce the cost of the bicycle by half, but as the cost comes down, the market just explodes. If you're on a bicycle, you can effectively move five times as fast. I mean, if you actually sort of calculate that out, you get roughly 27 times the area you have access to, or 27 times the economic opportunity, or 27 times the health care opportunities, 27 times the educational opportunities.

AGUINALDO: It's really just making it more stable. ODLIN: Maybe they can sell twice as many goods at the market and then they increase their income twice as much.

AGUINALDO: We're not just, you know, giving them fish, we're teaching them how to fish.

ODLIN: What we're giving is the technology that we've developed.

And this is to wrap around the joints...

We're going to be able to set up just, like, a really efficient factory that makes these great bikes for, like, an incredibly low cost.

AGUINALDO: We want them to contribute not just with their labor, but also with their ideas.

ODLIN: We're giving access to cheap bicycles that isn't dependent on anybody else. It's just dependent on the people that make the bikes. That will, you know, increase access to bicycles and improve a whole lot of people's standard of living.

AGUINALDO: I really miss my bamboo bike when I don't have it.


FOREMAN: And next, one last little ride.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is absolutely fantastic!


FOREMAN: Stay with us. "Giving in Focus" will be right back.


FOREMAN: We know that many of you would like to help, so if you want to know more about any of the programs featured here, go to

For all of the fine photojournalists at CNN who gave of themselves for this program, I'm Tom Foreman. Happy holidays. And before we hit the tracks from D.C.'s beautiful Union Station, we want to give you one last gift, a ticket to ride in a small way from Pasadena, Maryland, and photojournalist Bethany Swain.


MR. STURGEON, TRAIN GARDEN HOST: I didn't think my collection would grow this big.


JUNE STURGEON, TRAIN GARDEN HOST: It started out little section, little section, little section.

MR. STURGEON: Twelve hundred people came through last year.

JUNE STURGEON: He's been collecting since he was a child, and he just decided he wanted to build a train garden. I said, OK.

MR. STURGEON: I had quite a collection at the time, so I wanted to share it.


MR. STURGEON: And we built this building so we could set the trains up and give her back her closets.




MR. STURGEON: And it took me several years to put them up.

JUNE STURGEON: It basically is an all-year thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here it comes again.

MR. STURGEON: Each year, I put at least 100 hours in here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, there's James (ph). He's right there, with his eyes moving.

JUNE STURGEON: We leave it up all year long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Grammy, look!

MR. STURGEON: We control the heat in here. And in the summertime, we have a dehumidifier in here to take the moisture out. It's built better than the house.

Santa Claus is here every night until Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We come every year at least once a week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least that many.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've have been looking forward to it for about three months now.

MR. STURGEON: It's a tradition with us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our first time. It's absolutely wonderful. I just can't imagine the effort and the time that Mr. and Mrs. Sturgeon have put into this.

MR. STURGEON: There's a train we added this year. It has 30 cars on it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it is a long train.

MR. STURGEON: So it runs the whole length of the board.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the outside decorations are as beautiful as the inside ones.

MR. STURGEON: They know when this thing's lit and it starts flashing, they can come in, have a good time.

JUNE STURGEON: We love it. That's why we do it.

MR. STURGEON: It lights my heart up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just such a wonderful thing to do for the community.