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Uplifting

    Cutting lawns during the summer can be a chore, especially when temperatures and humidity rise. But an Alabama man not only enjoys cutting grass, he also wants to mow in all 50 states. >> Read more trending news “I’m on a journey called ‘50 States, 50 Lawns,’” Rodney Smith told WHAS. “(I’ll be) mowing a lawn in each state for someone who's elderly, disabled, a single parent mother or veteran. Smith has done yardwork in four states so far, he told WHAS. Smith, who lives in Huntsville, Alabama, but is originally from Bermuda, admitted that as a youth he did not like to cut grass. However, a chance encounter with an elderly man changed his perspective. 'It was on a hot, sunny August day and he was struggling, so I pulled up and helped him out and he really appreciated it,' Smith told WHAS. 'And I realized that this is something that so many people deal with.' It was that encounter that led Smith to create the Raising Men Lawn Care Service, which helps needy people by cutting their lawns for free. Sunday, Smith was in Louisville to mow the yard of a woman who had recently lost her husband. 'I came to release some stress off her back by mowing her lawn,' Smith told WHAS. Smith’s business goal is to encourage youths to pitch in and help neighbors in need. He has set a goal of 50 lawns for each youth, WHAS reported. 'Once they reach 50, we fly to them and we do lawns with them and we also surprise them with a brand new lawn mower,' Smith said. According to Smith, 12 boys have completed the 50-yard challenge. There are more than 100 kids involved in the Raising Men Lawn Care Service in the United States and there are also participants in Canada, Bermuda and England, WHAS reported.
  • True love knows no limits and for one couple, their love is beginning to go viral. An apprentice hairstylist captured a heartwarming Facebook video of the elderly couple during a hair appointment at The Foundry Salon in New Braunfels, Texas. The stylist posted in the caption that the client in the video “can no longer style her hair herself” -- so the husband took action. >> Read more trending news  From learning about the proper hair products to proper brushing methods while blow-drying, the man attentively took note on how to do all these things while the stylist thoroughly explained each tip. >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  It was apparent that he really wanted to learn as evidenced by his attention to detail. He even asked specific questions about particular styling methods. It’s safe to say this likely wasn’t on his “honey do” list!
  • Patients at St. Joseph's Hospice in London received a special gift after Saturday's royal wedding. >> Meghan Markle's rescue dog, Guy the beagle, goes from shelter pup to royal pet According to People magazine, Britain's Prince Harry and bride Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, gave the hospice some flowers that had been used to decorate St. George's Chapel for their ceremony. >> Royal wedding: Kitty Spencer stuns with resemblance to her aunt, Princess Diana 'Today we got a very special delivery. Beautiful bouquets made from the #royalwedding flowers which we gave to our patients,' the hospice wrote on Facebook, along with a photo of a smiling patient holding a bouquet. 'A big thank you to Harry and Meghan and florist Philippa Craddock. Our hospice smells and looks gorgeous. Such a lovely gesture.' >> See the post here >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  Meanwhile, Markle sent her bridal bouquet to Westminster Abbey 'to rest on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior,' a tribute to those who died in World War I and other military conflicts, according to a press release. >> Read more trending news  'This is a tradition which was begun by HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, at her marriage to King George VI in memory of her brother Fergus who was killed in 1915 at the Battle of Loos during the First World War,' the release said. >> See the photo here
  • A new member of the royal family is making headlines – and no, we're not talking about Meghan Markle. >> Royal wedding: Meghan Markle wears Princess Diana's aquamarine ring to reception According to the Guardian, a beagle named Guy was in a Kentucky kill shelter until Ontario-based A Dog's Dream Rescue saved him and offered him for adoption at a 2015 event in Canada. That's where he met his new owner, Markle, who went on to marry Britain's Prince Harry on Saturday. >> Royal wedding: Kitty Spencer stuns with resemblance to her aunt, Princess Diana A royal spokesman told the Guardian in November that Guy had moved to England with Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex. WLKY reported Saturday that Guy has even been seen riding in the car with Queen Elizabeth II. >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  >> Read more trending news  “It’s just beyond my wildest imagination,” A Dog's Dream Rescue founder Dolores Doherty told the Guardian. “How is that for a rags-to-riches story from a good old Kentucky beagle?” Read more here.
  • The Most Rev. Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church gave the formal address at the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Related>>Royal Wedding: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry wed (live updates) His stirring speech included quotes from civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., American slaves and a Jesuit theologian. >> Read more trending news Read the full address, transcribed by The Washington Post: “The late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said and I quote: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.” There’s power in love. Do not underestimate it. Don’t even over sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love. If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved. There’s power, power in love, not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There’s a certain sense in which when you are loved and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it, when you love and you show it. It actually feels right. There’s something right about it. There’s a reason for it. It has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love. Our lives were meant and are meant to be lived in that love. That’s why we are here. Ultimately the source of love is God himself. The source of all of our lives. There’s an old medieval poem that says: “Where true love is found, God himself is there.” The New Testament says it this way. “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; And those who love are born of God and know God. Those who not love does not know God. Why? For God is love.” There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. (…) But love is not only about a young couple. The power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we’re all here. Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up. It’s not just for and about a young couple whom we rejoice with. It’s more than that. Jesus of Nazareth on one occasion was asked by a lawyer to sum up the essence of the teachings of Moses. He went back and reached back to the Hebrew Scriptures to Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. This is the first and great commandment. The second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. Then in Matthew’s version, he added, he said, on these two, love of God and love of neighbor, hang all the law, all the prophets, everything that Moses wrote, everything from the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world. Love God, love your neighbors, and while you’re at it, love yourself. Someone once said that Jesus began the most revolutionary movement in human history: a movement ground on the unconditional love of God for the world and a movement mandating people to live and love. And in so doing, to change not only their lives but the very life of the world itself! I’m talking about the power, real power, power to change the world. If you don’t believe me, well, there were some old slaves in America’s Antebellum South, who explained the dynamic power of love and why it has the power to transform. They explained it this way. They sang a spiritual even in the midst of their captivity. It’s one that says there is a balm in Gilead, a healing balm, something that can make things right. There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul. One of the stanzas explains why, it says, if you cannot preach like Peter, you cannot pray like Paul, you just tell the love of Jesus, how he died to save us all. That’s the balm in Gilead. This way of love is the way of life. They got it. He died to save us all. He didn’t die for anything he could get out of it. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life for the good of others, for the well being of the world, for us. That’s what love is. Love is selfish or self-centered. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, become redemptive. That way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives. And it can change this world. Stop and imagine for a minute. Think and imagine. Think and imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families when love is the way. Imagine our neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when love is the way. Imagine this tired, old world when love is the way. When love is the way — unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive — when love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream, and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty would become history. When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more. When love is the way, there’s plenty of room for all of God’s children. When love is the way, we actually treat each other, well, like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters and children of God. Brothers and sisters — that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family. Let me tell you something. Ole Solomon was right in the Old Testament. That’s fire. French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was arguably one of the great minds, great spirits of the 20th century. Jesuit, Roman Catholic priest, scientist, a scholar, a true mystic. Some of his writings from his scientific background as well as his theological one, some of his writings said as others have said that the discovery and harnessing of fire was one of the great technological discoveries of human history. Fire to a great extent made human civilization possible. Fire made it possible to cook food, and to provide sanitary ways of eating, which reduced the spread of disease in its time. Fire made it possible to heat warm environments and thereby marking human migration a possibility even into colder climates. Fire made it possible — there was no Bronze Age without fire, no Iron Age without fire, no Industrial Revolution without fire. … Anybody get here in a car today? An Automobile? Nod your heads if you did, I know there were some carriages. Those of us who came in cars, the controlled-harnessed fire made that possible. I know that the Bible says, and I believe it that Jesus walked on water, but I have to tell you I didn’t walk across the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Controlled fire in that plane got me here. Fire makes it possible for us to text, and tweet, and email, and Instagram and Facebook and socially be dysfunctional with each other. Fire makes that possible, and de Chardin said fire was one of the great discoveries in all of human history. He went on to say if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captured the energies of love, it will be the second time in the history that will have discovered fire. Dr. King was right. We must discover love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. My brother, my sister, God love you, God bless you. And may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.”
  • Meghan Markle chose French fashion label Givenchy for her royal wedding dress, designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller. Markle and Waight Keller worked closely together on the design, according to Kensington Palace, highlighting Markle’s “minimal elegance.” >> Read more trending news  The gown was made of pure silk, with an open neckline and slight A-line skirt. Six meticulously placed seams helped create the lines of the dress. The lines of the dress extend to the train, which flowed in soft round folds that included an underskirt in triple silk organza. Waight Keller researched the fabric by touring mills throughout Europe, according to the palace. She selected an exclusive double-bonded silk with a soft matte finish.  Markle and Waight Keller chose the pure white color to reflect a “fresh modernity.” The open bateau neckline framed Markle’s shoulders and she chose slim three-quarter length sleeves. Markle’s veil was over 16 feet long and made from silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk and organza.  Markle wanted to represent all 53 countries of the British Commonwealth family of nations in her dress, which are reflected by the flowers in the veil, according to Kensington Palace.  Making sure each flower was unique took an enormous amount of time and care, Kensington Palace said.  Each flower was flattened to create the unique and delicate design. Workers spent hundreds of hours sewing. The Palace said the workers had to wash their hands every 30 minutes to make sure the tulle and threads stayed pristine. Markle also included some of her favorite flowers, including wintersweet, which grows on the grounds of Kensington Palace in front of Nottingham Cottage. She also chose the California poppy to represent her home state of California.  In the very front of the veil, there are embroidered crops of wheat, symbolizing love and charity. The look was completed with a tiara borrowed from Queen Elizabeth II. It is from Queen Mary’s collection held in the Queen’s vault, according to PEOPLE.  The diamond bandeau in the tiara was created in 1932, with the center brooch dating to 1893. Markle wore earrings and a bracelet by Cartier and a Welsh gold ring, given to her as a gift from the Queen, PEOPLE reports. Markle followed in Princess Diana and Kate Middleton’s footsteps, who both chose British designers for their dresses. Princess Diana’s dress was designed by Elizabeth Emanuel and Middleton’s dress was designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, according to Marie Claire. Waight Keller is the first female artistic director for Givenchy. She was named artistic director in 2017. According to her biography on Givenchy’s website, Waight Keller launched her design career with Calvin Klein and Gucci. She also led the British label Chloe. 
  • A California woman who found a newborn buried alive 20 years ago was reunited with him Thursday, KABC reported. >> Read more trending news As Matthew Christian Whitaker celebrated his 20th birthday, his biggest present was meeting Azita Milanian, a woman who saved his life after finding him covered with dirt along a hiking trail in Altadena, California. On May 17, 1998, Milanian was jogging with her dogs on the hiking trail when her pets began sniffing around a pile of dirt. Milanian brushed the dirt away and found a newborn boy with his umbilical cord still attached, KABC reported.Minanian ran for help and returned to clear dirt out of the infant’s mouth and nose. After he was taken to the hospital, the infant recovered and was sent to Child Protective Services. He was adopted, and Milanian never saw the child again, KABC reported. This year, Whitaker learned he was adopted. His friend requested a 23andMe DNA test for him, and the story came to the attention of Patty Rodriguez of KIIS radio in Los Angeles. As her staff researched the story, Rodriguez wondered if Milanian knew anything about the child she had found, KABC reported. Rodriguez posted the story on her Instagram account, and it led to an emotional reunion between Whitaker and Rodriguez.
  • It was a great way to cap off a long golf career. >> Read more trending news Ben Bender, 93, who has been playing golf for 65 years, played his final round at Green Valley in Zanesville, Ohio, last month. He went out in style, scoring his first hole-in-one, the Times Recorder of Zanesville reported. Plagued by hip bursitis that caused him to cut his round short, Bender used a 5-wood to score an ace at the third hole at Green Valley. 'I'd come close to some hole-in-ones, but this one was level on the green before it curved towards the hole and went in,' Bender told the Times Recorder. 'I was in awe watching it. I played a few more holes, but my hips were hurting and I had to stop. It seemed the Lord knew this was my last round so he gave me a hole-in-one.' Green Valley manager Steve Galloway said that Bender got off to a rocky start, shooting at least a 7 on the other five holes he played. '(Ben) shot 8 on 1 and 7 on 2 so you guessed it, a hole-in-one on 3,' he said. 'What an amazing feat by Ben (in his final round).' Bender, a former 3-handicapper who has played since he was 28, played six days per week when he lived in Florida. When he retired, Bender moved back to Zanesville and regularly played Green Valley, the Times Recorder reported. 'I was lucky to play golf this long, but I never expected (a hole-in-one),' Bender told the newspaper. 'It was the last time I was able to play, and I think God had a hand in this. I loved the game and hate to give it up, but I can't play forever.”
  • A photo of a Texas man who shaded a woman in a wheelchair with an umbrella has gone viral, KTRK reported. >> Read more trending news Louis Jordan was picking his mother up from work in downtown Houston when he saw a stranger sitting in the heat. 'It was unbearably hot. I wouldn't want to be out there in the sun,' Jordan told KTRK. Jordan, 34, went back to his car and grabbed an umbrella, then returned to offer shade to the woman, Michelle. 'It was going to be a little longer for (the) Metro Lift to come and get her, so we ended up waiting out there for an hour and 45 minutes,' Jordan said. It has become a ritual. Now, anytime Jordan sees her waiting for a ride, he grabs his umbrella and goes to enjoy some time with her. 'We laugh, joke. She's in a book club,” Jordan told KTRK. “Come to find out, she likes pork chops.' Jordan said. Jordan’s mother, Vernette Botts, took the photo. She said her son’s act of kindness was nothing new. Botts said Jordan rescued his grandmother, who was trapped during Hurricane Harvey last year. 'She was trapped inside, four feet of water, no power,' Botts said. 'He called me back from my mom's and said, 'I got her.'
  • A 5-week-old pit bull puppy was pulled to safety by Missouri firefighters after the animal fell about 20 feet down into a PVC pipe, KTVI reported. >> Read more trending news Members of the Ferguson Fire Department rescued Poncho on Wednesday after the puppy became wedged in the pipe. The animal had been a gift for a boy one day earlier. “They let the puppy in the backyard to play and apparently the grass has been cut and, in the process, the top of the drain pipe had been cut off so it was an exposed 8-inch PVC pipe,” firefighter Chad Forgue told KTVI. “The puppy walked over and went headfirst down.” Forgue said his crew tried to lasso the puppy with a rope. “We could see its tail and one back leg at the time and every now and then when the rope would hit him and he moved a little bit, so it kind of reassured us that he was still with us,” Forgue said. “We just weren’t sure if he was nose down in some water or if he was even at the bottom of the pipe. We didn’t want to knock him down any further.” It took some time, but the firefighters were able to free Poncho. “Just seeing the look on (the boy’s) face and that his puppy that he just brought home, the whole family was excited they return to them,' Forgue told KTVI. 'Sometimes we don’t get to see positives but this time we just so happen to.”
  • National Weather Service meteorologists were is out surveying the storm damage in Fairfax on Monday. Saturday’s storm in Osage County toppled trees and powerlines. The meteorologists believe straight line winds reached up to 90 m.p.h. Damage was reported at the post office, fire department and at a cemetery.  No injuries have been reported. FOX23 and NEWS102.3 KRMG Chief Meteorologist James Aydelott says there’s a chance for storms nearly every day this week in Green Country. Tune to NEWS102.3 and AM740 KRMG for the latest weather information.  You can also get weather alerts sent to your phone by downloading the KRMG app.     
  • A day after President Donald Trump demanded an investigation into how the FBI dealt with investigations during the 2016 campaign, the White House accepted a plan from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to expand an ongoing review of the probe into Russian interference in the elections, and how it touched on the Trump Campaign. “Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the Inspector General to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump Campaign,” read a statement issued by the White House. “It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with Congressional Leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested,” the statement added, referring to an ongoing battle between Republicans in Congress and the feds for documents about the Russia probe. The outcome of the meeting between Mr. Trump, the Deputy Attorney General, the FBI Director, and the Director of National Intelligence – which was not listed on the President’s public schedule – was less explosive than what President Trump had seemingly threatened on Sunday, when he said he would demand a full investigation into whether the feds had “infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes.” Mr. Trump and Congressional Republicans have been playing up the issue in recent days, arguing that initial FBI efforts to find out what Russia was doing with relation to the Trump Campaign, was actually an effort to undermine Mr. Trump’s bid for the White House. But Democrats say what’s going on now is an effort by Mr. Trump and his allies in the Congress to undermine the current investigation, by allowing the President’s lawyers to see what evidence the Special Counsel’s office – and maybe U.S. Intelligence – had been able to gather during the 2016 campaign. Giuliani removes all doubt – the White House effort to force DOJ to give investigatory materials to Congress is really about the defense team getting their hands on them. If the President is charged with a crime, he has a right to see the evidence. Not before. https://t.co/HfzzdZ894d — Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 21, 2018 The Monday meeting at the White House came as Republicans stepped up demands for documents about the investigation, as Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), asked the Justice Department for information on contacts between officials and former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who put together a controversial ‘dossier’ on the President, funded by Democratic sources. In a letter to Rosenstein, Grassley zeroed in Monday on Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, and his contacts with Steele. “Accordingly, please provide all records related to Mr. Ohr’s communications about these matters, including: (1) emails from Mr. Ohr’s personal and work accounts, (2) phone logs, (3) handwritten notes, and (4) text messages from personal and work accounts,” Grassley wrote in a letter.
  • Days after Friday’s deadly school shooting at Santa Fe High School, school districts in the Houston area are re-evaluating their policies and are increasing security. Aldine Independent School District told KTRK medal detectors and ID scans will be used at single entry points at all of its schools. The district also has cameras at every campus and drills are held throughout the year. At Bay City ISD, backpacks will be banned this week and will have increased security, KTRK reported. Many districts, like Clear Creek ISD, Pearland ISD and Cy-Fair ISD,  will increase police presence at campuses and other buildings. >> Read more trending news  Cy-Fair is also outlawing trench coats and other heavy clothing that could conceal weapons, KTRK reported. Texas City School District has asked that students don’t bring bags or purses to school if they don’t have to, and the bags that are brought could be searched. District officials have also asked parents to monitor their child’s social media accounts. If students see a post that could be suspicious, officials ask them to tell a parent or trusted adult, KTRK reported. For more on what other districts that surround Santa Fe ISD are doing, click here.
  • The National Rifle Association’s incoming president has linked school shootings and other violence to using medications such as Ritalin. Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North told “Fox News Sunday” that perpetrators of school violence “have been drugged in many cases” and “many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten.” He also blamed a “culture where violence is commonplace,” pointing to TV and movies. North’s comments followed the attack Friday at Santa Fe High School outside Houston that left eight students and two teachers dead. Investigators have given no indication that they believe the 17-year-old suspect, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, used Ritalin, which treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or other drugs. Pagourtzis’ attorney, Nicholas Poehl, said Sunday that he was not aware that his client was on any specific medication. He said he was surprised that someone with North’s experience with the criminal justice system would “make those kind of generalizations with a case that’s less than 48 hours old.” An NRA spokesman, Andrew Arulanandam, confirmed North was speaking on the organization’s behalf and said “there are others who share this viewpoint.”
  • An “explosive eruption” happened at Kilauea's summit on Hawaii's Big Island early Monday, prompting officials to warn residents to protect themselves from ash fallout as the Kilauea volcano eruption continues into its third week. >> Read more trending news More than 40 structures have been destroyed in the eruption that started May 3. It has since inundated almost 325 acres around Kilauea with lava and lead to concerns about laze, a toxic mixture of lava and haze that forms when hot lava hits ocean waters. Update 12:35 p.m. EDT May 21: Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said early Monday that a small explosion happened just before 1 a.m. local time at the Halemaumau crater at Kilauea's summit. The explosion shot ash about 7,000 feet into the air. 'Additional explosive events that could produce minor amounts of ashfall downwind are possible at any time,' USGS officials said. The Hawaiian County Civil Defense Agency warned residents to be aware of ashfall after the 'explosive eruption.' Update 12:38 p.m. May 20: Lava from the Kilauea volcano has crossed Highway 137 and entered the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaii County Civil Defense said Sunday. A second lava flow is about 437 yards from the highway, the Star Advertiser of Honolulu reported. Big Island residents may now have to contend with laze -- a mixture of lava and haze -- that forms when hot lava hits the ocean, CNN reported. After making contact with the water, the laze sends hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air. Laze can lead to lung, eye and skin irritation, CNN reported. 'This hot, corrosive gas mixture caused two deaths immediately adjacent to the coastal entry point in 2000, when seawater washed across recent and active lava flows,' the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory wrote on its website. Officials have told people to avoid areas where lava meets the ocean, CNN reported. Powerful eruptions accompanied by thunderous booms punctuated the air Friday around Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island. The volcano spewed lava bombs the size of cows as molten rock flowed from several of the 22 fissures that have opened around the volcano.  Update 2 a.m. EDT May 19: Fast-moving lava isolated about 40 homes in a rural subdivision, forcing at least four people to be evacuated by county and National Guard helicopters, the Star-Advertiser of Honolulu reported. According to the Hawaii County Civil Defense, police, firefighters and National Guard troops were stopping people from entering the area. Update 11:30 p.m. EDT May 18: Hawaiian authorities have sent the National Guard, police and fire units into the East Rift Zone in Puna, according to the Hawaii Civil Defense Agency. “There are approximately 40 homes in the area that are isolated. Officials are gaining access by helicopter to the area to assess how many people are there and if they need assistance. All persons in that area are asked to stay where they are and wait for further instructions,” the agency said on its website. The Hawaii Volcano Observatory has confirmed another fissure opened on Friday, bringing the total number of fissures to 22.  Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes as Kilauea continues its violent eruptions. Update 8:30 a.m. EDT May 18:  More lava is spewing  from the Kilauea volcano as the 21st fissure opened Thursday, CNN reported. Meanwhile, state officials have been handing out masks to protect people who live near Kilauea, ABC News reported. About 18,000 masks have been distributed, CNN reported. The safety measure protects residents from breathing in pieces of rock, glass and crystals that fall as the volcano continues to erupt, ABC News reported. Update 10:45 p.m. EDT May 17: Lava is erupting from points along the fissure system on Kilauea volcano, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but the agency is calling it a “low-level eruption” at this point.  Although lava is still spattering from Fissure 17, the flow has not advanced significantly over the past day, the USGS said. There are currently 18 fissures that have opened due to seismic activity on Kilauea’ over the past two weeks.  Volcanic gas emission are still elevated throughout the area and residents are urged to remain on alert.  “This eruption is still evolving and additional outbreaks of lava are possible. Ground deformation continues and seismicity remains elevated in the area,” the USGS reported late Thursday.  Rain on the Big Island Thursday helped the situation with the ashfall, but volcano experts are warning the situation on Kilauea is  still very dynamic. Original report: Several schools were closed as ash continued to fall Thursday due to elevated sulfur dioxide levels. Officials warned people in the area to take shelter and protect themselves from the falling ash. >> Here's how to help victims of Hawaii volcano, earthquakes 'The resulting ash plume will cover the surrounding area,' officials with the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said in a 5 a.m. alert. In a subsequent update, USGS officials said the ash plume was moving to the northeast. The plume could be seen in an image taken from a webcam at the USGS’ Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. 'Driving conditions may be dangerous so if you are driving pull off the road and wait until visibility improves,' the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency warned. Michelle Coombs, of the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, told Hawaii News Now that the situation remained “very, very active and very dynamic,” on Thursday. “The potential for larger explosions is still there,” she said. Officials with the USGS warned Tuesday that an eruption of Kilauea's volcano appeared 'imminent.' >> Red alert declared on Hawaii’s Big Island; major Kilauea eruption ‘imminent’ The eruption on Kilauea began May 3. It has since forced thousands of people from their homes, destroyed nearly 40 structures -- including dozens of homes -- and created more than two dozen fissures in the ground surrounding the volcano. Check back for updates to this developing story.