This article is part of Giving Back, our stories about Texans finding creative ways to uplift our state.

A Frisco family sent hundreds of teddy bears to Uvalde students

A year after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary that killed nineteen children and two teachers, Jason Hanna; his husband, Joe Riggs; and their grade-school-age twin sons, Ethan and Lucas, delivered more than five hundred stuffed animals to students of the school.

A teen in East Texas helped an amputee play his instrument

In the small town of Quitman, ninety miles east of Dallas, high school junior Nehemiah Faulkner used his school’s 3-D printer to create a prosthetic object that allows freshman marching band member Cole Ochoa, who is missing his right hand, to prop up his mellophone while on the field.

A college student invented a smart bedsheet for his grandpa

William Brown, at the time an undergrad at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, got the idea while taking care of his grandfather, who had an unfortunate tendency to fall when getting out of bed without assistance. Sensors lining a bedsheet alert caretakers when a patient is getting up, so they can provide a helping hand.

East Texas students taped their principal to the cafeteria wall to help kids battling cancer 

Tyler ISD senior and cancer survivor Aneesa Cedillo organized the Stick It to Cancer fundraiser. For a $2 donation to the Gold Network of East Texas, an organization that assists families with kids who have cancer, participants received a strip of duct tape to place across Tyler High principal Claude Lane, who stood on a chair against the wall. Dozens of strips later, the chair was removed, and Lane became interior decor. 

Two Austin middle schoolers built a smart cane for the visually impaired 

Harmony School of Endeavor eighth graders Ahyan Hassan and Hasan Rizvi engineered a cane that vibrates when its sensors detect obstacles up to five feet away. The Pathfinder Project won the Austin Energy Regional Science Fair and a junior category of the Texas Science & Engineering Fair.

A Houstonian searched for abandoned puppies in a storm drain

Callie Clemens spent three days moving through a cockroach-infested storm drain in search of the black Lab mixes that had reportedly fallen in. She helped rescue two puppies.

Another Houstonian saved 1,500 bats 

After temperatures rapidly plummeted last December, Mary Warwick rescued 1,500 bats that had fallen to the ground after suffering from hypothermic shock by housing them in her attic before returning them to the bridges where they live.

Texans threw an injured police officer a free wedding 

Local vendors said “I do” to donating more than $31,000 in services to the December 2022 wedding of Bastrop County sheriff’s deputy Sawyer Wilson, who had been shot and injured in the line of duty nine months earlier, and his then-fiancée, Maddie. 

A barber makes house calls for El Paso’s last living Holocaust survivor 

After 95-year-old Tibor Schaechner started having trouble making his appointments with Perla Sotelo, his barber of four years, Sotelo began visiting Schaechner at his nursing home to give him his regular haircut and beard trim. 

East Texas high schoolers raised $10,000 for a custodian after his wife died

A group of students at Bullard High School, fifteen miles south of Tyler, raised $10,338 for Nathaniel “Mr. Billy” Hawkins, a father of five, to help defray funeral costs.

North Texas high schoolers raised more than $250,000 to help a custodian retire (again)

When eighty-year-old James Gailey, a retired janitor who had worked at Callisburg High School, 75 miles north of Fort Worth, was forced to unretire after his rent spiked, students, led by senior Greyson Thurman, launched a campaign to raise $10,000 to help the man they knew as Mr. James. Just over a week later, the campaign had raised $270,880, and Mr. James happily re-retired.

A South Texas woman received a remodeled home

Melissa Balderrama’s trailer in LaCoste, about 25 miles west of San Antonio, had fallen into severe disrepair: her roof had collapsed, and she had only one working outlet. Impact Cares, an organization that helps improve mobile home communities, partnered with local volunteers to remodel a mobile home for her.

This article originally appeared in the December 2023 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Great Moments, Great Texans.” Subscribe today.