December 24, 2015 12:00 pm

5 heartwarming and ‘good news’ stories of 2015

WATCH: Take a look at a glimpse of some of the most heartwarming stories of the past year.

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In a year filled with terrorist attacks and mass shootings, there were also countless acts of kindness and generosity that helped restore people’s faith in humanity.

Here’s a look back at some of the most heartwarming and feel-good news stories of 2015.

1. ‘Welcome to your new home’


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Prime minister Justin Trudeau greeting Syrian refugees at the Toronto airport made international headlines.

Some people on social media wrote that it made them want to move to Canada. And a lot of Canadians said it made them proud to call this country home.

The emotional reunions between newly landed refugees and their family members, some of whom hadn’t seen each other in years, also struck a chord with many.

So did a video of kids’ messages to Canada’s newest residents.

“I hope you really like it here,” said a boy in the piece put together by World Vision Canada.

“It’s a very nice place, there’s no war. You can go to school safely,” a young girl added.

“I want to be your best friend,” another one declared.

2. ‘They might have guns, but we have flowers’

Following the deadly Paris attacks, a father’s message to his young son that love is stronger than violence went viral.

The two had come to light a candle at a memorial when a touching impromptu moment was captured by news cameras for French TV show Le Petit Journal.

When a reporter asked the boy if he understood why the terrorists attacked, he answered that it was because they were “very, very, very mean” and his family would have to change homes now.

His dad tried to comfort him, assuring him they wouldn’t have to move.

When the boy expressed concern about the “bad guys” and their guns, his dad said: “Well, they might have guns, but we have flowers.

The boy still wasn’t convinced at first but bought into the idea by the end of the exchange, which has been shared close to 18 million times on Facebook.

3. Final act of kindness

A five minute encounter between two strangers at a California grocery store took a tragic twist before turning into a movement.

Jamie-Lynne Knighten, an Ontario native, was stuck in line with a crying baby and declined credit card when Matthew Jackson came to her rescue.

Despite not having much money himself, the young fitness trainer insisted on paying her $200 bill.

When she called the gym he worked at a few days later to sing his praises, Knighten learned he had been killed in a crash less than 24 hours after his good deed.

Determined to spread his memory, Knighten turned to social media. She initially just wrote about her experience on her own Facebook page, where the response was “just phenomenal.”

It inspired her to spread the word on a larger scale.

She’s started a Facebook page and is using the hashtag #MatthewsLegacy on Twitter to honour his memory and encourage others to pay it forward.

The message might have caught on. According to the Los Angeles Times, Jackson’s sister, husband and four kids were on the way to his memorial service when they stopped for dinner.

When they went to pay the bill, they found someone else had already paid it for them.

4. Paying it forward 50 years later

What started as an act of kindness between a B.C. man and a hitchhiker in the Bahamas almost 50 years ago has since been shared around the world.

“He picked me up, I was a 22-year-old, long-haired student, of that ilk,” Iain Reddish said of Cedric Steele, who now lives on Vancouver Island.

“He took me into Nassau and as I was getting out of the car, he put $50 U.S. in my hand.”

“I thought ‘I can’t accept this. He said ‘look, I know you’re broke.’

“‘When you’re established and grown-up as it were, it’s up to you to pay it back to anyone you can help out down on their luck. That way we’ll survive in this world.’”

Steele said he never thought about the encounter again, but that message stuck with Reddish, who lives in Amsterdam.

Since 1968 he’s helped dozens of people around the world who are down on their luck, and told the story countless times.

He was shocked when one person had already heard of the tale. It had spread all the way to Namibia, Africa.

“It just shows you how the odd bit of kindness can multiply,” said Reddish.

The two hope to meet up again in Europe next year. Steele said he plans to give Reddish a €50 note so he can keep passing on the acts of kindness.

5. SpiderMable

A six-year-old Edmonton girl who lives with acute lymphoblastic leukemia had her wildest dream come true this fall when she became “SpiderMable” for a day.

She was tasked with saving Oilers captain Andrew Ference from the villain Mysterio.

After a meeting with the mayor and being briefed at police headquarters, SpiderMable had to follow clues that took her on a mission around the city.

Edmontonians cheered her on every step of the way.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming here and seeing the crowd and everyone following it,” said Edmonton Oiler Connor McDavid.

“It’s very special.”

-With files from Jenny Sung, Steve Morales, Amy Judd and Caley Ramsay, Global News; The Canadian Press

© 2015 Shaw Media

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