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Heroes among us inspire with everyday acts of kindness — big and small

They're there to lend a hand or stand in harm's way when needed most. Here are the stories of everyday acts of kindness, big and small.
/ Source: TODAY

When we encounter stories of people who stood in harm's way or just lent a hand when it was needed most, we like to make sure they get the recognition they deserve. Check out these 20 amazing stories of people who did just that.

1. Kids' sweet note to injured officer goes viral: 'Thanks for being like a dad'

A Connecticut police officer with a passion for helping children posted an adorable note two siblings wrote him while he was recovering from a knee injury. In the letter, the kids thanked Officer Anthony Nolan for "being like a dad for us" and reading to them.

2. Oregon Community College hero writes about tragic shooting

Army veteran Chris Mintz ran toward a community college shooter to save other students, and released a statement on Facebook after he was released from the hospital.

3. Meet 'Postal worker Mike,' one 4-year-old boy's hero

A child and his local postal worker work together to deliver not only letters around the neighborhood, but also first-class smiles to many on the route.

4. So sweet! Hero cupcake shop owner saves missing child after seeing Amber Alert

A Utah cupcake-shop owner got a sweet reception from customers after saving a child who had been reported missing.

After receiving a cell-phone Amber Alert on Feb. 4, cupcake-shop owner Leslie Fiet found the missing 3-year-old girl and kept the toddler safe in her store until police and the girl's family arrived.Leslie Fiet

5. The real hero: Boy seeks autograph at Disney World ... from police officer

At Walt Disney World, the local celebrities usually sport tails or tiaras. But one 6-year-old wanted most to meet Orange County Master Deputy Keith Rogers.

6. Husband's Facebook tribute goes viral: 'My wife is a nurse. My wife is a hero.'

An Alabama husband's sweet Facebook tribute to his wife, a nurse, went viral this weekend, thanks largely to the photo caption's final 10 words.

Bobby, Raeyna and son Deacon, Christmas 2014Bobby Wesson via Facebook /

7. Five-year-old boy with brain cancer fulfills wish of becoming a police officer

A 5-year-old with brain cancer got to play policeman for a day, and even broke up a staged fight between bad guys.

Courtesy of Darren Derby

8. Florida teacher takes 10 minutes each day giving a lesson to last a lifetime

In an effort to let his students know how special they are, Chris Ulmer starts each class giving compliments to them individually.

A teacher starts each class by complimenting his students so they know how special they are.Courtesy of Chris Ulmer

9. 'She goes where she is needed': Grandmother turns hero for daughter with cancer

Tonya Peat was breast-feeding her then 7-month-old daughter when she found a lump. And in September, when the diagnosis came, she knew there was one person who could save the day: her own mom.

Tonya with mom, Carol, and daughter, Annabelle.Tonya Peat

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10. French train attack hero Anthony Sadler: We did 'whatever we could' to disarm gunman

One of the three American heroes who helped thwart a heavily armed gunman on a passenger train in France last month said he'd like to think others in his position would have done the same thing.

Anthony Sadler with Lester HoltTODAY

11. Police officer provides homeless family with shelter and food on his own dime

A kindhearted police officer helped Tierra Gray and her family get back on their feet after they got evicted from their home in Oxford, Ohio, where her children attend school.

12. 'My job is to take care of them': Hero day care worker speaks out after assault

People hailed Martha McClure as a hero when photos of the day care provider's beaten face went viral after she stood up to a non-custodial parent who allegedly attacked her.

Martha McClure, who runs Martha's Mini Daycare, is hailed as a hero.Courtesy of Martha McClure, gofu

13. Sweet photo of police officer comforting lost boy goes viral

After getting separated from his family, a scared boy was comforted by police officer David Taylor during the Rice Festival in Crowley, Louisiana, earlier this month.

14. Explosion levels Washington hotel, manager hailed a hero

The manager of a motel has been hailed as a hero in the wake of an explosion that leveled part of a building. A gas worker was injured, but others made it out safely thanks to her prompt evacuation.

15. Texas police officers buy car seats for family in need instead of giving tickets

A Texas police officer was troubled by what he saw in the back seat during a traffic stop earlier this month: three young girls who didn't have car seats. So he didn't issue tickets: He bought them seats.

16. St. Louis hospital fulfills sick boy's wish to become a police officer

A 10-year-old boy with a severe lung disease was sworn in as an honorary police officer in a heartwarming ceremony at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

St. Louis County police and the Missouri Highway Patrol participated in the event where Zyron Ward was made an honorary public safety officer at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

17. Police perform epic 'Thriller' dance to cheer up sick boy: 'His face lit up'

Why wait for Halloween when there's a special kid in need of cheering up? Menacing zombies attacked a bit early and dancing deputies performed "Thriller" — all to the delight of a boy who is battling a terminal illness.

Boy meets police.Courtesy Pasco Sheriff’s Office

18. How one boy's humble Christmas wish moved a grumpy cop to tears ... and to help

When one Santa learned of a child's wish for the holiday, he took action to help his whole community.

Santa (aka Chief Kappelman) presents a gift to his son Levi at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in North Bend, Oregon, in 2013.Robert Kappelman

19. Police officer dishes out ice cream — not tickets — to people he pulls over

Instead of traffic tickets, one Georgia police officer dished out something much sweeter to the people he pulled over — ice cream.

20. Strangers share fire truck photos to cheer up boy with leukemia

A Connecticut fire captain created the Fire Trucks for Christian Facebook page, where he posted the photo to cheer up 4-year-old Christian Reynoso as he began treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

People from around the nation have been posting photos of fire trucks to cheer up this boy who loves fire trucks as he is being treated for leukemia.Katherine Annunziato

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