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Need a smile? These are the 9 happiest stories that happened in 2016

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-25 06:00:11-05

It wasn't all about death, destruction and the election in 2016, even though it may have felt that way at times. Thanks (mostly) to baby animals and kids, there were some happy moments, too.

Here's a reminder of some happy and heartwarming things that happened in 2016:

1. We got UberPuppies

This happened in early 2016, before the puppy poop really hit the fan.

UberPuppies is a brilliant idea, really -- shelters bring adoptable puppies to prospective owners (or puppy enthusiasts) via Uber for a one-day-only kind of thing.

In Cincinnati, Uber paired up with the League for Animal Welfare. For every 15 minutes of puppy playtime, the League for Animal Welfare got a $30 donation.

We figured the only way to really get to the bottom of this story was to test out UberPuppies for ourselves.

 

Pretty cute, right?

The good news -- UberPuppies continues to pop up in cities across the country. Uber, if you're reading this, please come back to the 513!

Read more about UberPuppies in Cincinnati here.

2. Culinary Camp was a smashing success

You know the "if you teach a man to fish" adage? Well, in the summer of 2016, the Freestore Foodbank and Design Impact came up with a way to "teach a kid to cook." The results were awesome.

 

Not only were kids learning how to make healthy food from fresh ingredients, they got to bring home their creations to their families.

"We want to make sure the food is something they can create from home," Caitlin Behle from Design Impact said. "The recipes recognize that a lot of the kids may have limited resources, such as no heat source, for example."

Some example meals include homemade pizzas, lettuce wraps and fruit salad.

Read more about this program here.

3. A group helped keep families intact

The bond between kids and their pets is strong. However, many families who become homeless are forced to leave their pets at an animal shelter or on the street, as most homeless shelters do not allow pets.

The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati decided to open its doors to four-legged family members after they discovered a pet turtle smuggled in by a young girl staying at the shelter.

"We're coming at it from what's going to make kids feel like kids and feel like their needs are being heard and respected," the nonprofit's executive director said. "Bringing a service that meets them where they are."

 

Read more about the pet program here.

4. A girl helped strangers learn to read

A girl from Clermont County had a really sad dream one night -- that the world was one big homeless shelter and no one knew how to read.

Rather than shake off the depressing dream, she started working to help ensure that it would never become a reality.

Lizzy Teets, 10, started sewing pillowcases and pairing them with donated books to deliver to kids at Child Focus, a nearby nonprofit that helps kids from all walks of life.

Read more about Sweet Dreams by Lizzy here.

5. Two words: Baby cheetahs

Five baby cheetah cubs were born prematurely via C-section at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Sadly, they became orphans soon after.

The runt of the litter died about a week later, despite diligent care from the zoo's nursery staff. Later, a second cub died.

(I promise the story gets happy now!)

Three cubs were left at the Cincinnati Zoo, and a very special caretaker was brought in to "nanny" them: Blakely, an Australian Shepherd. Blakely is a seasoned zoo baby nanny who helped the cubs socialize and grow.

The three orphans got a new adopted brother, a cheetah named Donni, whose mother could not care for him, according to the zoo. Donni was welcomed with open paws. He even visited WCPO this summer!

 

Now, the cheetahs are in the Cat Ambassador program at the zoo.

6. The Cavs made grown men cry in Cleveland

...and in Cincinnati, which doesn't have its own NBA team to root for.

The Cleveland Cavaliers ended the city's 50-plus year drought without a championship. They won Game 7 after an unprecedented series comeback. It's a Cinderella story that everyone can get behind.

Mike Dyer, WCPO Insider high school sports reporter, is a lifelong Cleveland sports fan. He described watching his brother cry, his mother pray and his father in utter disbelief during the fourth quarter of the game.

“It can’t get any better than this,” Jim Dyer, Mike's dad, said. “It’s great. Unbelievable. Oh my gosh. All these years growing up as a kid and all these disappointments.”

Cincinnatians might give Cleveland a hard time, but you have to admit that seeing "Believeland" pull through was pretty darn cool.

7. Another curse was broken, too

Breaking "curses" was a major theme in 2016. The World Series was a huge testament to loyal fans of the Indians and Cubs.

Indians fans, like WCPO Sports Director John Popovich, felt the burden of 14 years of "rebuilding," something Reds fans can relate to now. When the 2016 Indians made it to the World Series, Popo said he cried happy tears only rivaled by the ones he cried when he took his newborn son home from the hospital 30 years ago.

But Cubs fans broke a 108-year curse in 2016 -- 108 years since the team had even made it to the World Series. Our VP of WCPO Digital, Dave Peterson, is one of those people who yells "CUBB-IES" during "Take Me Out To the Ball Game" in the seventh inning stretch at Great American Ball Park. He said the game was excruciating and emotional and "that's what it should be."

For Cincinnatians who had no ties to the Cubs, it was still heartwarming to watch a local kid, Kyle Schwarber of Middletown, steal the show time and time again.

8. A grandma fed a stranger

This has no local tie whatsoever, but it's too cute to not include.

A grandmother in Arizona was getting her Thanksgiving dinner plans in order. She texted out the meal time to her grandkids...or so she thought.

Jamal Hinton, a 17-year-old student, was actually on the receiving end of that text. He jokingly asked "Can I still get a plate tho?"

Of course, granny said yes.

The woman, a complete stranger, said she would save a plate for him because "that's what grandmas do....feed everyone." 

Is that cute or what?!

9. Baby ducks were rescued

I saved the fluffiest for last -- baby ducks.

This isn't as much of a "story" as it is a precious sight. West Chester firefighters rescued a bunch of cute, yellow ducklings from a storm drain.

A bystander started shooting video when she saw a frantic mother duck, and she keep the camera rolling when West Chester's finest came to the rescue.

Watch the video for yourself here.