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❤️ You helped a woman find her birth mother | Morning Newsletter

And COVID-19 boosters are on the rise in the burbs

There’s rain in the forecast today, with temperatures in the low 50s.

In June, an Inquirer reader like you helped a woman who was abandoned at birth 50 years ago find her family. Today, she tells us in her own words about the experience of meeting her birth mother.

And the upside of the omicron variant? More people are getting booster shots.

— Kerith Gabriel (@sprtswtr,

On Aug. 14, 1967, Cheryl Edwards was abandoned as a newborn in West Philadelphia. Stuffed in a pillowcase and left in a dresser drawer. In June of this year, our reporter Stephanie Farr told her story.

An Inquirer Morning Newsletter reader who found the story here told a family she knew about what she had read — and the rest has been a roller-coaster ride of reunions, emotions, and now, Edwards sharing what it feels like to know where you come from.

Starting with her own mother.

It’s stories like this that drive home why journalism matters. Here’s hoping you find the time to read this one today.

What you should know today

  1. The city’s chronically underfunded animal shelter has some hard questions to answer as it enters a new year.

  2. Some area school districts are considering a return to remote learning as COVID-19 cases rise.

  3. New Jersey recorded 15,000 new cases in a single day yesterday.

  4. Jeff Guaracino, CEO of the city’s tourism arm Visit Philly, died at 48.

  5. Eagles rookie wideout Devonta Smith needs just 92 yards to break a franchise record.

  6. Whether you’re a small group or a party of one, consider crafting one of these festive New Year’s Eve cocktails and punches.

  7. Or are you gearing up for a Dry January? Here are some tips on how to get started and stick to it.

  8. And a Comcast executive says the company’s goal of closing the digital divide is happening – slowly.

  9. Local Coronavirus Numbers: Here’s your daily look at the latest COVID-19 data.

If there’s a silver lining to the rapid spread of both the omicron and delta variants of the coronavirus, it’s that more people across the region are getting a booster shot.

In fact, one in three people who are fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine has received booster shots.

Overall, fewer than 1 in 5 Pennsylvanians have the best protection available against the virus, and in New Jersey, the number of people who have received boosters — including eligible children — is less than 25%.

Our reporters Erin McCarthy and Justine McDaniel dived into the numbers for this look at the state of our region.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

Petal the Elephant wasn’t just a beloved animal at the Philadelphia Zoo, but a fixture as a sculpture inside the mall in Burlington Township. However, when the mall closed Petal moved into temporary housing. Today’s question: Can you take a guess of how long the sculpture resided inside the mall? Our reporter Kevin Riordan provides the answer alongside the fight to save the sculpture.

Photo of the day

🥨 Your Essential Philly

We asked you for your most memorable moment of 2021. Thanks to everyone who sent us a message. Here are a few of our favorites:

“My triple-vaxxed family scrounged around for at-home COVID tests so we could spend Christmas together. My determined daughter drove all over Philly looking for tests for her, her boyfriend and her brother [and] found them [at] a Rite-Aid. My intrepid nephew stood in line for hours for a free one from the City for him and his Dad. My fabulous friend called me from Walgreens in Flourtown, after I unsuccessfully scoured the suburbs, [to tell me] she found some and frantically asked if she should buy one for me and my husband. It sure does take a village these days.”

– Claire, Oreland

“My 80th birthday.”

– Mary, Philadelphia

“There are two – but they are related. On Feb. 18, I had my son Matt and his wife and his in-laws and my daughter Maria and her husband John over for Matt’s 31st birthday dinner. My daughter-in-law said, ‘Mare, look at Matt’s gift” and out he pulled a baby onesie [that read], “Eagles fan just like daddy!” We all burst out crying with joy. On Sept. 17, I had the same joy and crying when [my grandson] Peter Michael entered the world and we all met him that Sunday, Sept. 19 when he watched his first Eagles game! My first grandchild made me a nonna!!

– Mary, Philadelphia

“After 35 years of being a high handicap golfer, I finally had not just one but two holes-in-one.”

– Matthew, Philadelphia

Reuniting with my son and his family after 8 years of being separated.

– Maureen, Philadelphia.

That’s it for me in 2021. You’re in good hands with my colleague Ashley Hoffman, who will close out the week tomorrow. We’ll take a break from this Sunday’s Morning Newsletter, but I’ll be back with you first thing Monday as we kick off 2022. It’s been a blast delivering the news to you.

Happy New Year, Philly. Stay safe. 🥂