Indiana Vending Machine Dispenses Clean Clothing and Blankets to People Without Homes

iStock.com/Manuta
iStock.com/Manuta

A new vending machine in Muncie, Indiana isn't stocked with sodas and junk food. It dispenses winter basics like warm clothing, socks, and blankets, and instead of charging cash, it gives away items for free to community members who need them most, RTV6 reports.

The resource was set up outside the local fire department to service the up to 200 people without permanent homes in Delaware County, Indiana. To take advantage of it, people in need first have to register with the charity organization Bridges Community Services. There they are given free tokens that can be used to access the vending machine.

Muncie, Indiana isn't the first place to open a free vending machine for its underprivileged residents. The organization Action Hunger installed its first machine—stocked with food, socks, and toiletries—in Nottingham, England earlier this year. Like the machine in Indiana, the resource allows people without homes to collect necessities discreetly no matter the time of day.

Every item currently in the Indiana vending machine was donated by a member of the community, and Bridges Community Services is still accepting donations.

[h/t RTV6]

South Dakota’s Flintstones Theme Park Has Been Demolished

Tbennert, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 (cropped)
Tbennert, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 (cropped)

Fans of The Flintstones have said their final goodbyes to Bamm-Bamm, Fred, Pebbles, and other longtime residents of South Dakota's Bedrock City. As the local NewsCenter1 station reports, the quirky roadside attraction in the city of Custer—which closed down in 2015—has now been bulldozed.

Located about 40 miles from Rapid City in South Dakota's Black Hills, the attraction was the first Flintstones-themed park to open, in 1966. It featured a "Mt. Rockmore" structure, a 20-foot Dino statue, Fred's Flintmobile car, and other replicas of the houses and characters made famous by the cartoon. Now, all that remains are the memories shared by the many families who visited the roadside attraction over the years.

There's some good news, though. Visitors will have one last chance to visit Bedrock City's sister location in Arizona, located along Route 64 near the Grand Canyon. "We have been making needed repairs and will open the campground soon," a representative of Raptor Ranch, a new attraction slated to take over the Bedrock City site, tells Mental Floss. "We are closed now, but will open soon. This will likely be the last year to see the Bedrock buildings before the remodel."

The Arizona Bedrock City shut down in January after 47 years of operations. The new owner, Troy Morris, announced plans to convert the property into a park where visitors can learn about birds of prey and watch flight demonstrations. The upcoming attraction's Facebook page shared photos of the progress, while also attempting to find future homes for the Flintstones crew.

The date of the Bedrock City campground's reopening is yet to be announced, but keep checking the Raptor Ranch Facebook page for updates.

[h/t NewsCenter1]

Experts Say Storytime Can Help Children Recover From Trauma

Jordan Pix, Getty Images
Jordan Pix, Getty Images

The lives of millions of Syrian children have been disrupted by their country's ongoing civil war. As a result of this crisis, refugees from Syria have poured into camps in neighboring countries like Jordan, where children might not have an outlet to process their feelings or painful experiences.

According to The New York Times, an innovative reading program in Jordan is helping to heal some of these emotional wounds. The non-profit organization is called We Love Reading, and it has trained adult volunteers to read aloud to refugee children. It also designs and supplies the books, which have been written in such a way to include scenarios that are relevant to the children’s personal experiences.

For example, one book titled Above the Roof explains everyday weather events like wind and rain in an effort to alleviate fears among children who become frightened by sudden, loud noises. It appears to be working, too. Anecdotally, there have been reports of children starting to talk more freely about their fears after sitting through storytime. One child who had been wetting the bed because he was too afraid to use the bathroom by himself stopped doing so after a few reading sessions with a volunteer.

There has also been some scientific evidence of its efficacy, according to neuroscientist and Brown University associate professor Dima Amso. As part of a pilot study, she traveled to Jordan to assess the cognitive development of 30 to 40 children who had participated in the program. She and other researchers collected data before the children’s participation as well as three months into the program, then compared the results in the lab. Their findings reveal that the program appeared to improve the children's mental health and cognitive development.

“We can’t change [the children’s] political climate but what we can do is say, ‘Here are the resilience and risk factors that are going to make them most likely to benefit,’” Amso told The Brown Daily Herald last year.

The We Love Reading program was founded in 2006 by a Jordanian molecular biologist named Rana Dajani, who also spent some time in the U.S. as a Rita E. Hauser Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. More than 152,000 reading sessions have been held so far, and the program has since expanded to Africa, where volunteers work with South Sudanese refugees at the Kule Refugee Camp in Gambella, Ethiopia.

[h/t The New York Times]

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