While a divisive news cycle dominated the airwaves this year, there were plenty of heartwarming, good news stories, too. Whether it was kiddos making a major difference, parenting on parade or companies that gave back, these feel-good stories made us more than smile—and they reminded us all about the power of compassion, too.

Here’s all the good news that was fit to print this past year.

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Not All Superheroes Wear Capes

Wonder Woman, Batman and Thor are pretty cool—but these IRL superheroes totally caught our attention.

  1. The world was on the edge of their seats as we all watched the rescued Thai soccer team slowly emerge from their nightmarish experience of being trapped in a flooded cave for over two weeks.
  2. The holiday season wasn’t looking so merry for one Minneapolis mom-to-be whose crib was stolen off her front porch. And then Target came to the rescue.
  3. Becoming a mom brings a lot of challenges, not the least of which is the ability to eat a hot meal while it’s still warm. One waitress helped a single mom do just this, and we think she totally deserves a bonus.
  4. When police officer Celeste Ayala was working her Tuesday shift in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she probably never thought that she’d be the one responsible for feeding a baby—much less one that wasn’t hers.
  5. From worksheets and reading lists to STEAM everything, if it feels like summer vacation has turned into school-lite, you’re not alone. One teacher’s summer packet went viral for standing out among the rest.
  6. There are new Girl Scout badges, and they’re all pretty awesome. Celebrating everything from eco-activities to STEM accomplishments, these badges are all about empowering girls in the STEM fields.
  7. In this viral post about Disney World returning a lost toy to its owner, something pretty special happened. Seriously. Check out what happened after the Ramsaran family left Disney, minus their little boy Wes’ Toy Story Slink dog toy.
  8. Thanks to Major Kelly Bell, breastfeeding in the military just got a whole lot easier.
  9. According to the Australian Red Cross, 2 million babies were saved with James Harrison’s donated blood

Mighty Kids Making a Difference

These kiddos are the next generation's change-makers.

  1. One little girl handing out burritos to firefighters proved you don’t have to be big to be a helper.
  2. This young girl noticed the gender-biased cereal packaging that came with her morning breakfast—and decided to do something about it.
  3. It might seem hard to believe, but one middle schooler’s note to a stranger proves kids can make good choices even when the grown-ups around them don’t. In this particularly battle of kids vs. adults, it’s definitely kids 1, adults 0.
  4. Eight-year-old Rosalyn Baldwin’s mission is to hug police officers in each state.
  5. In a MLS match between the LA Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders, it wasn’t Zlatan Ibrahimovic or any other soccer players that took home title of MVP. Instead, it was this amazing little girl singing the national anthem—and the amazing video of her performance went viral.
  6. It’s a rare and memorable moment when someone gets the honor of throwing out the first pitch at an MLB game, but for eight-year-old Hailey Dawson, it has become an occasion she has repeated many times.
  7. This ten-year-old helped her aunt deliver her baby at home and she is basically our hero.
  8. When a four-year-old’s motivational speech about reading goes viral, everybody listens. Seriously.
  9. One viral video has become a welcome breath of fresh, airy good news for a change: eight-year-old Maurice Adams Jr. helped an elderly woman up a flight of stairs while a bystander filmed the encounter. 
  10. From Starbucks vowing to get rid of straws to the plastic straw ban in California, these colorful plastic throw-aways may soon be a thing of the past—all thanks to a nine-year-old boy.
  11. Gerber announced the winner of its 2018 baby contest and major milestones with the first Gerber’s baby with Down Syndrome.
  12. Troop 6000 isn’t your typical Girl Scout troop: the girls are amazing, courageous and totally awesome—they just happen to all live in shelters. But that isn’t stopping them from conquering the world. Case in point: this homeless Girl Scout troop’s first cookie sale was a major success.

Moms & Dads Who Won at Parenting

These moms and dads def showed us what it meant to be a parent in 2018.

  1. One girl’s necklace made from her divorced mom’s wedding ring was a shining example of how to handle parenting after a marriage ends.
  2.  A now-viral series of tweets from the parent of a child with autism shows just how incredibly helpful and powerful Julia, a Muppet with autism on Sesame Street, is in real life.
  3. A photographer caught the image of a man crossing the New York City Marathon finish line with a newborn in his arms and the story of how the pair made it there will bring you to tears. Grab your tissues, folks.
  4. When one kindergartener was bullied for wearing nail polish, his dad clapped back in a serious—and seriously inspiring—way. 
  5. Getting kids to cooperate for a photo session can be difficult. When you have a child with special needs like autism, it can present a whole new set of challenges. This clever family photo shoot handled one child’s needs in an incredibly awesome way.
  6. This viral Facebook post is a good reminder of why it is important to reflect what brought you together as a couple.
  7. When a daycare teacher told mom Jessica Rold that her baby daughter wasn’t dressing “girly” enough, she politely listened to and eventually acknowledged their request. Oh, but that doesn’t mean she decked her little girl out in frilly pink socks, a glittery tutu or rosy bows. Nope. She did something even more awesome.
  8. This company wants to do something to help moms and dads work in a big way, with a website with flexible jobs for parents.
  9. During a San Diego Padres game, the Jumbotron caught the exact moment when a set of parents embarrassed their teen son with some pretty rad dance moves. While the teenager caught on film was probably looking for just a fun night at the ballpark, his parents had other plans.

Celebs Generally Being Awesome

These celebs totally impressed us in 2018. And not with reputation, money or good looks. Nope. They showed off a kindness and coolness that we totally get.

  1. When Jimmy Fallon asked the rapper about his toddler’s Paw Patrol-themed second birthday party, Ice-T showed what a softy he’s become. And we’re loving his proud papa side.
  2. Gwyneth Paltrow is a mama, actress, entrepreneur, lifestyle expert, media mogul and well known for her “conscious uncoupling” with ex-husband Chris Martin. Paltrow and Martin put the low-key, easy on everyone divorce style on the map with their very public admission that even though they were splitting, they wanted to work toward some sort of happy-ish separation.
  3. Where is “Fart Land?” Well, for right now it’s on the internet, where it’s, umm… making a major statement. No, “Fart Land” isn’t the brainchild of some millennial movie maker. More specifically, “Fart Land” is a short essay from comedian Patton Oswalt’s 8-year-old daughter.
  4. Golden State Warrior point guard, Steph Curry, proved he really is golden when he rose up to meet the request of nine-year-old Riley Morrison. The young fan wrote Curry a letter asking for help when she discovered that the star’s shoe line, Under Armour Curry 5 Grade School, were not available in girls’ sizes. Riley’s dad shared her letter on Instagram in hopes that the star player would see it and respond. And oh, how he did!
  5. Meeting an iconic celeb is always a thrill. But when Pink stopped her concert for a teenage fan, the meet-and-greet was so much more than a simple fan-girl moment.
  6. Two-year-old Parker Curry got to meet “Queen” Michelle Obama after the little girl's reaction to the First Lady's portrait went viral.
  7. For over 20 years, Dolly Parton has brought the gift of reading to kids across America by donating free books. In March, Parton donated her 100 millionth book to the U.S. Library of Congress.
  8. With just a few days left before the start of her official Reputation tour, Taylor Swift invited 2,000 foster kids to her show at the University of Arizona. 
  9. By now, we all know Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is pretty amazing—but the actress isn’t just Wonder Woman on the big screen, as it turns out she’s also a wonder woman IRL, too.

photo: Courtesy of Target

Companies Making It Work

These companies did plenty of good in 2018—for consumers, employees and a whole lot more.

  1. Walmart’s new expanded parental leave policy will give full-time hourly associates 10 weeks of paid maternity leave.
  2. Microsoft’s new paid parental leave policy is  revolutionary, and hopefully one that will be a trailblazer for more companies to follow suit.
  3. Starbucks is reportedly making an investment in their employees—with enhanced compensation packages totaling over $250 million company-wide.
  4. Lowe’s parental leave policies are changing—for the better. The company recently announced a plan to enhance benefits for their employees, including new bonuses, an expansion to maternal and parental leave policies and added adoption assistance.
  5. Among several new updates, Target will raise its minimum wage to $12 in 2018, as part of its previously-announced commitment to raise it to $15 by 2020.
  6. Drugstore giant CVS is setting new standards for beauty imagery.
  7. Likewise, if you’re tired of those too-perfect-to-be-real images, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that Target’s new swimsuit ads have no photo retouching.
  8. It’s a lofty goal, but Mattel’s “10 million kids coding” partnership with Tynker shows both company’s commitment to helping our kiddo’s get the STEM skills they’ll need to succeed.
  9. The LEGOs you know and love are in for some big changes. In an effort to create zero waste, the company is producing LEGO bricks made from plant-based materials, but you likely won’t notice at all.
  10. You’re coughing, sneezing and the absolute last thing you want to do is get in your car and drive to the doctor. Well, now you don’t have to. Uber Health will offer free rides to doctor’s appointments.
  11. Between the bright lights, loud sounds and everything else that goes on inside, it’s easy to see how Chuck E. Cheese’s can overwhelm just about anyone. But for kids with autism or special needs, the sensory overload can be way too much. To help, Chuck E. Cheese’s launched Sensory Sensitive Sundays for kids with special needs.
  12. Sesame Place wants to make their theme park a sensory sensitive place. And that’s why they’re becoming the first Certified Autism Center (CAC) theme park in the world.
  13. One airline is looking to make it easier for parents to fly with kids by making air travel much more comfortable and it’s a wonder no one thought of this sooner.

Heartwarming Surprises & Reveals

Break out the tissues: you're going to need 'em for these moving, feel-good stories.

  1. The holidays might be over, but one little boy just got the best Christmas present ever—his dad, home from the military.
  2. Birthday gifts that come from young kids are some of the sweetest ever. One group of kindergartners surprised their school janitor for his birthday with an adorable present and you’ll want to break out the tissues now.
  3. One mom’s incredible reaction to visiting the set of Sesame Street proves that the magic doesn’t end just because you’re a grown-up.
  4. When eighth grader Maxford Brown dreamed of becoming a professional mascot, he never imagined that his wishes would come true. 
  5. Some birthday gifts are more memorable than others. For one little girl, the gift of a surprise adoption on her birthday is one she will never forget.
  6. Grandparents and technology don’t always mix and when the two worlds collide you can be sure it will often be hilarious. An adorable marriage proposal video went viral, but not because of the happy couple, but rather the grandpa behind the camera.
  7. Eyewear company EnChroma aims to make the world that much brighter for people with color blindness with their special glasses—and that’s what makes its glasses for kids with color blindness so incredibly important. Sit back to watch a little boy see the world in full color for the very first time.
  8. This viral video of a 3-year-old flower girl at her bone marrow donor's wedding will give you all the feels.

Master Classes in Kindness

These teachable moments offer lessons for a lifetime of compassion.

  1. There’s nothing like a fart to set kids off in a fit of giggles, but for classroom filled with children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, it resulted in a profoundly teachable moment about accessibility.
  2. When one dad confronted his son’s bully he realized that things aren’t always what they seem. And the reason behind the bullying behavior isn’t what you’d expect—and neither was the outcome of this sensitive situation.
  3. A little kindness can go a long way and when it comes to kids, the simplest gestures can make their whole day. One subway rider shared his game with the boy sitting next to him and the boy’s reaction will totally make your day.
  4. Chicago teacher Kimber Bermudez was on a Southwest flight to Florida to visit her parents when her seat mate struck up a conversation with her. When she brought up that her job has heartbreaking moments and that her students should “never have to go without,” she was met with an outpouring of support she wasn’t expecting.
  5. Warning! Reading this letter from a grateful mom to a 19-year-old who bought her coffee may make you cry. 
  6. After the Pay Your Age Day sale debacle, Build-A-Bear has faced some flack. One Build-A-Bear employee’s act of kindness will make you forget all about that and shines a light on how special the gift of one stuffed animal can be.
  7. Teachers often go above and beyond for their students. But when one Chicago educator watched her student’s baby, she went farther than most would.
  8. A young, seemingly pregnant, mom was trying to wrangle her toddler having a very public meltdown. Instead of just walking by, women started to congregate. And no, not to judge or mom shame the crying mother. Nope. These women were all about support.
  9. As a viral post about a mom being helped by another mom at Target shows, one mom got some much-needed help from a complete stranger.
  10. One mom is on a mission to help couples affected by two fertility clinics’ frozen embryo storage malfunctions—by selflessly donating her own excess embryos to couples who lost theirs. 

Babies Are Basically the Best

Seriously—babies rule. And who doesn't love a good gender reveal or pregnancy announcement?

  1. If you haven’t already spotted Baby Chanco on Instagram, you’ll want to look her up ASAP for an awesome dose of cuteness.
  2. We all react to surprises differently but this man’s reaction to finding out he’s going to be a dad wins the internet.
  3. When mama-to-be Jennifer Jones-Prothro wanted to find out the sex of her ninth child—yes, ninth!—hubby James came up with the most touching way imaginable.
  4. For couples struggling with infertility it can be a very long and difficult path to tread before they finally reach that amazing day when they finally get to hold the baby they’ve been waiting for. This viral IVF baby photo captures the enormity of that struggle beautifully.
  5. This couple styled their gender reveal after Jimmy Falllon’s “Egg Roulette” game and yes, it's as hysterical as you'd imagine.
  6. A couple who had been trying to get pregnant for 11 years shared their joyous news with family in a special way.
  7. One mom not only wanted to capture the beauty of her baby belly, but she decided to make her pictures truly unique, with a maternity photo shoot at Taco Bell.
  8. It can be both bittersweet and difficult to welcome and celebrate the new baby while still grieving the loss of another. One mom’s rainbow baby maternity photo shoot is a powerful example of this unique experience.
  9. For one expectant mom, her gender reveal surprise party was a doubly exciting moment she will never forget. And we know what you’re thinking—no, wasn’t twins. The surprise was even more awesome!

Just Try Not to Smile

These were the stories that made us smile, giggle and laugh out loud this year.

  1. Do you live in America’s happiest city? Even if you don't, there's no reason you can't visit.
  2. This viral video of an airport security dance-off with a little boy shows that TSA agents can have some fun, too!
  3. Going to the doctor can be super stressful for both parents and kids, but when you have a pediatrician and balloon artist all rolled into one, good times will be had by all.
  4. Nobody ever said that mommy-ing was easy. But this mama duck has adopted 76 ducklings, and we’re pretty sure that she has us all beat. Like seriously—she totally wins for Mom of the Year!
  5. Nothing will stop this little boy from playing with his neighbor’s dog.
  6. The Maryland Zoo has given one turtle a new lease on life with the help of this wheelchair made out of LEGO bricks
  7. Nothing like some rain to delay one of the biggest games of your life. Being kids, however, the young players in the Little League World Series didn’t let a little wet weather dampen their spirits.
  8. Instead of making a traditional wish list, a 13-year-old genius created a Wall of Sorrow to guilt her dad into getting their family a cat. And guess what? It worked!
  9. And if you're ever looking for a good news fix, look no further your Google Assistant. Try asking it, “Google, tell me something good" when you need a good news perk-me-up!