AOL The Top 10 Good News Stories of 2010

The Top 10 (Well, 11 and Then Some) Good News Stories of 2010


AOL News

This was a year that tested Americans’ already-thin patience.

Though we were told that the recession, in fact, ended last year, it was frankly hard to believe. Unemployment refused to budge, the summer and fall were dominated by rancorous midterm elections, and gasoline hit $3 a gallon, just in time for the holidays.

Many of us might be heaving a sigh of relief that 2010 is showing itself the door, but it wasn’t all bad. Despite the gloomy economic news that spread across the globe — and even, in some cases, because of it — people everywhere continued to do incredible, inspiring things.

The 33 Chilean miners pose with President Sebastian Pinera.

José Manuel de la Maza, AFP/Getty Images
The world sent up a collective cheer when the last of the miners was brought to safety from the San Jose mine in Chile in October. Here they pose for photos in the hospital with President Sebastian Pinera.

There were the 33 Chilean miners who thrilled the world when they were rescued alive, miraculously, after 69 days underground. One of the three American hikers detailed in Iran for more than a year was freed.

A group of the richest people on the planet pledged to give away the majority of their wealth to charity. Closer to home, some did great deeds for the benefit of others; some conquered goals that mattered to no one but themselves. Some did nothing more heroic than being good neighbors — no big deal, maybe, but encouraging in its own way.

Here are a handful of our favorite positive stories of 2010, as chosen by AOL’s Good News staff. And a happy 2011 to you all.

1. These Kids Are All Right

Young people continued to amaze us with their selflessness and passion. We came across so many kids with an inspirational sense of mission that we had trouble selecting just a few.

There was Katie Stagliano, a sixth-grader from Summerville, S.C., whose nonprofit, Katie’s Krops, has delivered more than a ton of vegetables to soup kitchens. She tends six gardens — including a football-sized plot given to her by her school — that supply produce to food pantries.

Zach Bonner, 12, of Tampa, Fla., leads supporters past the historic Carousel on the Santa Monica Pier

Reed Saxon, AP
Zach Bonner leads supporters past the historic carousel on the Santa Monica Pier in California on Sept. 14 during the last mile of his nearly 2,500-mile "March Across America" to raise awareness of and funds for homeless children and teens.

And Zach Bonner, another 12-year-old philanthropist. After Hurricane Charley struck his hometown of Tampa, Fla., in 2004, Zach helped out his neighbors by distributing bottled water and other supplies from his little red wagon. Through his Little Red Wagon foundation, Zach has made advocating for homeless youth his personal mission. This September, Zach completed a 2,478-mile March Across America, which took him from Tampa to Los Angeles and took him more than five months. Just days after finishing the walk, Zach started directing a mini-documentary about ending homelessness for the estimated 1.3 million young people living without shelter in America.

In the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, government agencies, large corporations and relief organizations all mobilized, but in an atmosphere of accusations and recriminations. One 11-year-old girl on Long Island set about saving birds with her paintbrush. BRANDed Management

Olivia Bouler teamed up with the Audubon Society to raise money for the Gulf of Mexico cleanup effort with her bird paintings. When bird-lover Olivia Bouler heard about the spill, she contacted the Audubon Society and asked if she could help raise money for the cleanup effort with her bird paintings. Thus began her "Save the Gulf" campaign, where she sent an original watercolor to anyone who made a donation.  "I really needed to do something," Olivia said. When AOL heard about her efforts, it teamed up with the young painter, making her one of its AOL Artists and together raising $150,000 for Audubon.