News tends to be about bad things that happen - like shootings or corruption, robberies and death.
So as we look in the rearview mirror at 2012, we should remember those stories that warm our hearts, the stories about the things people do that inspire us or motivate us to do better.
In that spirit, here are 12 Tulsa World stories that made us feel good in 2012.
Leland Duff poses with the cat that saved his life at the roadside fruit and vegetable stand. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Leland Duff thought he was going to die when the former Stringtown saloon he stayed in caught fire one night in April, but an unlikely hero came to the rescue.
A stray cat.
"If it hadn't been for that cat, I would've burned up in there myself." Duff said.
Before the fire, the 85-year-old man had moved to South Dakota to live with his son because his doctor told him he couldn't live alone anymore.
But it was too cold.
So he came back home and became the defacto night watchman at the fruit stand housed in the old saloon.
Duff never imagined a cat would do so much for him.
To read Duff's story published July 5, go to tulsaworld.com/straycat.
Abigail Smith, 17, a senior at Glenpool High School, receives a hug from her friend Chance Acosta, a junior at the school, in May. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Abigail Smith faced graduation from Glenpool High School without two of the most important people in her life.
Her father died of a drug overdose and her mother died after a five-year battle with breast cancer.
But with the support of counselors and teachers at Glenpool High, as well as an aunt, uncle and her little sister, Smith persevered through it all.
"I really didn't want to let something so human defeat me," she said. "People are going to die, but you have to make the choice of whether you're going to let that ruin you or whether you're going to let that make you a stronger person. It's going to hurt. But everybody goes through pain.
To read Abigail's story published May 17, go to tulsaworld.com/abigailsmith.
Danny Cotner of the Rogers Baptist Church chainsaw team from Claremore saws a tree as volunteers remove debris near Mannford in August. CORY YOUNG/ Tulsa World
After wildfires devastated much of Creek County during the summer, people from all over stepped in to help.
The August wildfires burned nearly 400 homes to the ground and left hundreds of people homeless.
"For us, it's like a death in the family, so it's like a funeral," said Joe Anaya, whose family lost their Mannford home.
A Southern Baptist Convention disaster-relief team from Arizona cleaned up the site where their home once stood.
"I'm so thankful. This has given us a very big head start at rebuilding our lives," Anaya said.
To read this story published Aug. 26, go to tulsaworld.com/creekcountyfires
Sheri Melgoza on Wednesday shows off her kitchen, which was given a makeover by members of Woodlake Assembly of God. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World
Tulsan Sheri Melgoza has had her share of hardships.
Two liver transplants. A heart attack and a stroke during the second surgery.
Then her oldest son was killed in a motorcycle accident as she recovered in the hospital.
She needed something good to happen. That's when Woodlake Assembly of God chose her for their home makeover project.
The Rev. Jamie Austin, pastor of Woodlake Assembly, said the church started the home makeover program two years ago as a way to "get outside the church walls."
"A lot of the families we choose are not Christians. We tell them: We're not going to preach to you. We just want to show the love of Christ."
To read the Aug. 18 story, go to tulsaworld.com/homemakeover.
Karrington (left), 13, Avi Joy, 5, Nehemiah, 3, and Natasha Perryman have family reading time as they go about their home school lessons in February. Karrington was adopted from DHS custody, and the two younger children were traditional international adoptions. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Since she was 8 years old, Karrington had bounced from foster home to foster home.
By age 12, she had fallen behind in school and had trouble with her weight.
But one day at the Oklahoma City zoo, she met Adam and Natasha Perryman, who were looking to expand their family.
They prayed about Karrington and felt God led them to adopt her. It wasn't easy making the transition into a forever family. The 12-year-old felt she was being suffocated, and she shut down, said her mother, Natasha Perryman.
Eventually, Karrington started coming around.
"She didn't understand what family was really supposed to be like and just gave up," Natasha Perryman said. "We gave her consistent love, never giving up. We knew she was worth redeeming, and God is helping heal her."
To read the Feb. 19 story, go to tulsaworld.com/adopted.
Newly retired, Don Comstock finally had time to notice the trash and weeds and junk dotting his west Tulsa neighborhood.
He decided to clean up a nearby vacant lot. Then he noticed an abandoned house and began clearing the weeds. That expanded to weed-eating and picking up garbage along roadways.
Now he organizes residents in west Tulsa for Clean-up Days and was named a Neighborhood Hero by County Commissioner Karen Keith.
To read Comstock's story, published Nov. 18, go to tulsaworld.com/trashcleanup
Marines escort the casket of World War II Marine Walter "Dub" Vincent of Tulsa to his burial site at Memorial Park Cemetery in Tulsa on May 5. Vincent's remains were recovered from a South Pacific island crash site and returned to Tulsa. JAMES GIBBARD/ Tulsa World
Walter "Dub" Vincent and his crewmates were declared missing after their B-25 bomber went down on April 22, 1944.
For years, Vincent's family assumed the Marine second lieutenant's plane had crashed into the sea in the South Pacific.
More than 60 years later, one of his relatives wanted to learn more. And what he learned led him to a remote island archipelago now called Vanuatu, where he and a group of family members inexplicably found the wreckage of Vincent's plane along with his remains in a thick jungle.
They were able to bring "Uncle Dub" home for a proper burial near other family members at Tulsa's Memorial Park Cemetery.
"It's emotional," said Vincent's great-niece, Brooke Desrochers, a lieutenant and naval flight officer. "Not even knowing him, it takes you by surprise. It definitely has an impact on you."
To read the story about bringing Walter "Dub" Vincent home, go to tulsaworld.com/waltervincent.
For Patrick Osborne, Christmas is a year-round endeavor.
He is known as the "Christmas card man" - and for good reason.
All throughout the year, he fills out Christmas cards to send during the holiday season.
His passion began 15 years ago when he wanted to make sure that fellow residents in his residential care home were remembered at Christmas.
Now, he sends some 3,000 cards to jail inmates, nursing home residents, politicians and world leaders.
Some have even sent him cards in return, including former President George W. Bush, Jay Leno and members of the British royal family.
To read the story about Osborne published Dec. 1, go to tulsaworld.com/christmascardman.
Rashawn Anderson, a second-grader at Gilcrease Elementary School, receives a backpack Thursday filled with several educational materials from Edison Preparatory School's Austin Morgan as part of Morgan's "Promoting Literacy Through Books and Backpacks" Eagle Scout project. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Austin Morgan had a big vision for his Eagle Scout service project.
The Edison Preparatory School sophomore decided he wanted to help as many needy children as he could.
So he raised $3,000 and solicited donations of backpacks and books.
More than 300 students from Gilcrease Elementary enthusiastically got to pick out five new books and a backpack to take home with them.
"What I hope to inspire is a greater love of literacy, whether you are just learning to read or are advancing your reading skills," Morgan said.
He learned many of the children didn't have the right clothes for the winter weather, so he and some scout friends began to take up that cause.
"I've learned I'm very blessed in my personal life," Morgan said. "It's very eye-opening. Not even a few miles away, this is the lifestyle of kids that is completely on the other side of the spectrum from my lifestyle."
To read the story about Morgan published April 12, go to tulsaworld.com/eaglescout.
U.S. Army Spc. Ashley Jones (center) waves to well-wishers as she rides with Joy Jackson (left) and Brittany Webb during a welcome-home parade in Cleveland, Okla., on Saturday. The three women were deployed together. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Ashley Jones came home to Cleveland to find she is her hometown's hero.
On St. Patrick's Day, the town's residents put aside the Irish holiday to honor her with a parade.
"It really helps," Jones said. "They've really helped me more than they know."
The 21-year-old's right leg was amputated below the knee after an improvised explosive device struck a convoy she was in while serving as a combat medic in Afghanistan.
She had months of physical rehabilitation ahead of her. But for that day, Jones relished the love and support her town displayed for her sacrifice to country.
Said her father, Chris Jones, "This is the best little town there is."
To read the March 18 story, go to tulsaworld.com/clevelandhero.
Judy Stephens pets her dogs Coal (left) and Samantha at her home in Tulsa in September. Coal, a Labrador who served as a bomb-sniffing dog in Afghanistan, was adopted by Stephens and her husband. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
After four years of serving the country in war zones, it's all biscuits and belly rubbing for Coal.
The 7-year-old Labrador retriever found his new home in Tulsa with Phil and Judy Stephens, who adopted him after his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps in January.
Coal had seen too much in his work as a dog who sniffed out improvised explosive devices, more than half the time in Afghanistan. He lost his tail in one of two blasts he was near. He now limps and has some hearing loss.
"These dogs are soldiers," Judy Stephens said. "They give their life for this country, and what do we do? We go off and leave them."
Coal arrived in Tulsa in September and is now learning how to relax and how to play with a rubber ball.
"It's also a sense of giving back when you take one on and give him a good home," Phil Stephens added.
To read Coal's story published Sept. 23, go to tulsaworld.com/coal.
Carrie Cook (left), listens to her sons Aidan, 7, and Zachary, 9 (right), with her mother, Jan Kent, on Tuesday on the front porch of their new Joplin home. The house was completed in November as part of the Tulsa Habitat for Humanity's "Ten for Joplin." JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
Zachary Cook kept praying for a home, even though his mother told him it was a long shot.
The Cook family's apartment had been destroyed by the tornado that ripped through Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011.
"We never, ever thought we were going to own our own home," said Zachary's mother, Carrie Cook. "That was never going to be an option for us."
But the 9-year-old boy kept praying.
To his mother's surprise, Zachary's family was selected to receive one of 10 homes built by Tulsa Habitat for Humanity's "Ten for Joplin" program.
The homes were built in a little more than two weeks, and the Cooks - Carrie, 38, Zachary, 9, and Aidan, 7 - moved in right away.
"I want to thank Tulsa for coming together and doing this for Joplin," Cook said.
To read the story about the Cook family published May 20, go to tulsaworld.com/cooks.
Original Print Headline: Stories that inspired us
Kim Archer 918-581-8315