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When there’s a terrorist attack, there are courageous emergency workers. Where there’s a mass shooting, there are selfless bystanders who shield strangers and tend to the wounded. When there’s a natural disaster, there’s someone checking in on a neighbor.

The media often declare them “heroes,” though in many cases they refuse the label. They insist that they were just doing their jobs, or doing what anyone would do in their situation.

Whatever you call them, they provided some of the year’s most uplifting stories. Violence and destruction have a way of draining hope, but acts of altruism and selflessness under duress offered a sliver of light when people most needed it.

They provided moments of uplift, often little noticed, in a year when stories of collective heroism were in the headlines: The women who came forward about sexual harassment, abuse and assault by powerful men. The undocumented immigrant students who excelled in the face of a harsh political environment in the United States. The besieged human rights lawyers defying an increasingly authoritarian Chinese government. The Native American teenagers who helped halt an energy pipeline that would have devastated their homeland in the Dakotas.

Here are some of the less prominent acts of courage by ordinary individuals who lurked behind the news — women and men who risked their lives, ran toward danger, or otherwise inspired us in 2017.

After Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and near St. Louis were vandalized, and bomb threats were made at community centers and day schools, thousands of Muslims and others donated more than $136,000 for repairs.

Muslim activists raised more than $130,000 to help restore desecrated Jewish graves nationwide.Published OnFeb. 27, 2017CreditImage by Mark Makela/Getty Images

The man, Ian Grillot, 24, was shot while intervening in a hate crime in Olathe, Kan. India House Houston, a nonprofit organization, later raised money for a reward, which Mr. Grillot used to buy a home.

Alok Madasani, left, and Ian Grillot, right, survivors of the February shooting at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kan., were recognized this month in Topeka by the state’s House speaker, Ron Ryckman Jr.CreditOrlin Wagner/Associated Press

“Just because I am homeless doesn’t mean I haven’t got a heart, or I’m not human still,” the man, Stephen Jones, 35, told ITV News. The attack in Manchester, Britain’s deadliest terrorist attack in more than a decade, killed 22 people and injured dozens of others.

“I didn’t want a situation where I’m the reason anyone dies,” one of them told us. The deployment of children has become so common that citizens are warned to be on the lookout for girl bombers.

“They said to me, ‘Are you going to sleep with us, or do you want to go on a mission?’” Aisha, 15CreditAdam Ferguson for The New York Times

“If nobody does anything, he’s going to die,” David Capuzzo, 26, recalled thinking. A Times reporter witnessed the rescue at the Second Avenue station on the Lower East Side.

David Capuzzo, 26, was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and adopted by American parents. He is an illustrator, lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and waits tables to make extra money.CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times

Around 250 women take part in the program. They are paid less than $2 an hour for hazardous and backbreaking work.

Firefighters from Crew 13-4 of Camp Malibu on a lunch break at Nicholas Canyon Beach after completing a training exercise on Sept. 30, 2016.CreditPETER BOHLER for The New York Times

“When there really is a danger that must be faced in order to survive,” Anne Dufourmantelle said in a 2015 interview, “there is a strong incentive for action, dedication and surpassing oneself.”

When the time came, she acted, plunging into the Mediterranean to save two children from drowning. She died, but they lived.

Micah David-Cole Fletcher, a student and poet, was stabbed while intervening in a deadly xenophobic attack in Portland, Ore. He survived, but two other men who intervened — Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, a recent college graduate, and Rick Best, an Army veteran — died.

Coco Douglas, 8, on Saturday at a memorial in Portland, Ore., for two men who were killed when they confronted a man yelling anti-Muslim insults at two women on a commuter train.CreditGillian Flaccus/Associated Press

“To be a parent is to step into a great unknown, a magical universe where we choose to love over and over,” the mother, Rene Denfield, who grew up amid poverty, neglect and abuse, wrote in a Modern Love essay. “It is an act of courage no matter what.”

CreditBrian Rea

“People were screaming to get help,” the dancer, Gray Davis, said afterward. “But nobody jumped down. So I jumped down.”

Gray Davis dancing with Misty Copeland at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2012. Mr. Davis was in the audience at the Met on Saturday before leaving to take the subway home.CreditAndrea Mohin/The New York Times

In the besieged southern city of Marawi, Islamist militants went house to house searching for non-Muslims to kill. Brave residents sheltered Christian neighbors and colleagues, giving them canned goods and rice to subsist on.

A street scene in Marawi in May. Fighting has transformed the city into a desolate landscape of pockmarked buildings and cratered structures.CreditErik De Castro/Reuters

The gunman entered Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, killing a doctor and shooting six other people. Despite their anguish, medical staff worked around the clock to treat the injured.

Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, where a doctor armed with an AR-15 rifle went on a rampage on Friday, killing one and wounding six before setting himself on fire.CreditUli Seit for The New York Times

Moments of hope and inspiration rose above the chaos of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Emergency workers, journalists and neighbors waded through floodwaters to reach people in danger during Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

Less than two weeks after Harvey, Florida residents staged their own rescues during Hurricane Irma and offered much-needed moments of humanity.

“Lives were saved by the quick response of a teacher here, and I think that’s what needs to be noted,” Jeff Branson, chief of the Mattoon Police Department, said in a news conference, hailing the efforts of the teacher, Angela McQueen.

Angela McQueen, 40, has been credited with taking down the suspect.

Robert Engle, 22, subdued a gunman who opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, near Nashville. Chief Steve Anderson of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said Mr. Engle’s actions helped end the shooting.

Members of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tenn., after the shooting on Sept. 24.CreditAndrew Nelles/The Tennessean, via Associated Press

The Las Vegas shooting, for all its horror, revealed humanity too.

“We all became one that night,” said Dean McAuley, an off-duty firefighter from Seattle who helped victims. “I got to see one person at their worst, but I got to see and witness humanity at its best.”

A person injured in the shooting was tended to at Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard on Monday.CreditEthan Miller/Getty Images

Many concertgoers and bystanders went into rescue mode, combing the grounds for survivors and helping the injured get to safety. Strangers used belts as makeshift tourniquets to stanch bleeding, and others sped the wounded to hospitals in the back seats of cars and the beds of pickup trucks.

The officer, Ryan Nash, shot and injured the terrorist, who had used a rented truck to kill eight people and injure 12 others in Lower Manhattan.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Officer Ryan Nash said, “I understand the importance of yesterday’s events, and the role we played, and I am grateful for the recognition we have received.”CreditHeather Walsh for The New York Times

Sayed Basam Pacha, an Afghan police lieutenant, died after putting a suicide bomber in a tight hold, limiting the toll from the blast.

Nearly eight years after the earthquake, some Haitians remain blisteringly poor and cannot bury their loved ones. The St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, a charity, buries the bodies of the island nation’s unclaimed dead.

Children share coffins at the St. Damien chapel.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

And two reader favorites:

Mali, a Belgian Malinois badly injured by shrapnel, was awarded the Dickin Medal, Britain’s highest award for animal bravery, for helping to sniff out Taliban militants and their booby traps.

The Dickin Medal has been awarded 69 times since it was established in 1943. Its recipients include 32 pigeons, 32 dogs, four horses and one cat.CreditJack Taylor/Getty Images

Storm, a golden retriever, pulled a drowning deer to safety.

Storm, a 6-year-old English golden retriever, pulled a fawn from Port Jefferson Harbor. The fawn is recovering at Save the Animals Rescue Foundation in Middle Island, N.Y.CreditJohnny Milano for The New York Times

Daniel Victor is a reporter on the Express Team, covering a wide variety of stories with a focus on breaking news. He joined The Times in 2012 from ProPublica.