The Most Inspiring Stories of 2017 You Need to Know About

  • 9. 7-Year-Old Boy Runs His Own Recycling Company to Save the Earth (and Money for College) You can never be too young to care about the Earth and make a difference! California boy Ryan Hickman has always had a passion for sorting plastics from glass and cardboard. At just 3 years old, Hickman was inspired by a trip to the bottle return to begin a collecting/cleaning/sorting/exchanging recycling service for his neighborhood. Four years later, Hickman is now the CEO of his own business: Ryan's Recycling Company. He operates in 5 surrounding neighborhoods and separates the trash of 40 regular customers. Hickman and his parents visit the recycling center every few weekends to drop off the discarded reusable waste. Since launching his company, Hickman has recycled 49,000 pounds of waste, 200,000 cans and bottles, and has donated over $1,600 to charity. His leftover profits—an impressive $10,000—have been deposited straight into his college savings account. According to The Capistrano Dispatch, Ryan's eco-consciousness has rubbed off on everyone around him. His mother says, "You find yourself walking past a can on the ground and needing to pick it up instead of walking away and leaving it there."  
  • 10. A Teacher Who Makes Each of his Students Feel Special In a classroom of 40 students, this teacher has found a way to connect with each and every one of them. Barry White, Jr. is a 5th grade literacy teacher at Ashley Park Elementary School in North Carolina. After learning that LeBron James has a "secret" handshake with each of his teammates, White felt inspired to try it in his own classroom. His students have jumped on board. Each day of class, the children wait excitedly outside of the classroom, ready to share their personalized handshake with their teacher. Nothing says hello and "I'm so glad you're here today" in a more touching way. This video shows you a sample of White's creative greetings.  
  • 11. Thanks to Anonymous Donor, Girls Across St. Louis Could See 'Hidden Figures' for Free On Martin Luther King's Day, an unidentified woman in St. Louis bought every ticket for a local matinee screening of "Hidden Figures," a film based on the true stories of the African-American women mathematicians who played a vital role in NASA's early years. The tickets were then given out for free on a first-come, first-serve basis. According to CBSNews, the theatre's manager says, "From what I understand, [the woman] saw the movie with her children and felt that the message was of great importance and should be seen by as many people as possible."