10 things that made us smile this week

It's been a particularly rough week on our little rock here, hasn't it? I won't rehash the tragic headlines, but phew. There's just a lot right now.

Finding joy can be a challenge in such times, but it's a vital element of being a healthy, functioning human. Sometimes that means looking for the helpers, sometimes it means seeing the bright lights in the darkness, and sometimes it means indulging in cute animal videos because even good news stories take energy to process.

We've got a full mix of it all right here for you:

1. More than 100,000 people rallied to raise more than $5 million in 24 hours to rescue Afghans on the Taliban's kill list.

In an incredible show of humanity and solidarity with the Afghan people, donations from around the world poured in for a rescue mission headed up by former special operations veterans to get targets of the Taliban flown out of Afghanistan this week. Instagram meme maker Tommy Marcus (aka "Quentin Quarantino") launched the vetted GoFundMe to pay the cost of at least one plane—$225,000—to rescue Afghan human rights workers, translators, and their families. It only took 38 minutes to reach that goal, and 24 hours to raise 20 times that much. Read the story here.

2. Teen who spends hours a day dribbling a basketball got a surprise from his neighbors.

He was afraid people might be bothered by the sound of his basketball practice, but it turns out they just wanted to encourage him in his talents. A group of neighbors pooled together to buy him a new basketball hoop for his driveway. He hopes to play in the NBA someday. Watch:

3. This Argentinian musician is literally a one-man band and it's just mesmerizing to watch.

Santiago Moreno doesn't just play classical flamenco guitar, which is difficult all on its own. He also plays an entire range of percussion while playing said guitar, and all we're left saying is "WOW!" and "HOW?!?!" (Give him til 1:40 to get set up. It's worth it, I promise.) Yay for human creativity and skill.

You can also see more of him performing here.

4. This grandmother's reaction to getting some surprise slippers and new clothes is just so wholesome.

People recognize pure gratitude and love when we see it, and this is definitely both. Grandma "GB" is overwhelmed, y'all. But the best part is when she puts on a new outfit and in response to her grandson's "Dang," she immediately says, "I know." Get it, GB. (You can follow GB and her grandson's adventures on TikTok.)

5. A man built a garden in Harlem 10 years ago, which blossomed into a whole urban farming initiative for children and youth.

Humans of New York shared Tony Hillery's story, and it's touching people's hearts widely. It's a beautifully uplifting tale of transformation—of an abandoned garden, a community of children, and "Mr. Tony" himself. So many gems of wisdom in this. Read the story here.

6. A Polish Olympian auctioned her silver medal to pay for a baby's surgery, and the company that won the auction insisted that she keep it.

Just five days after winning silver in the javelin throw at the Tokyo Olympics, 25-year-old Maria Andrejczyk put her hard-earned medal up for auction. She'd learned of a crowdfunding effort for an infant's surgery in her home country of Poland and wanted to help. The supermarket chain that won the auction refused to accept the medal from her, and just donated the money instead. Goodness all around. Read the story here.

7. On a totally light and silly note, check out what happens when you add googly eyes to cut bell peppers.

Why oh why is this so delightful? Try to swipe through these pictures and not smile. It's simply not possible. Definitely try this at home.

8. A deer brought her babies to meet her best friend, who happens to be a Golden Retriever, and holy moly the cuteness is too much.

Those of you with ovaries might want to prepare them for what you're about to witness because mine nearly exploded watching this video. Sorry, not sorry. Buttons + G-Bro = BFF.

Golden Retriever And Deer Have Been Best Friends For 11 Years www.youtube.com

9. Speaking of unbearable cuteness, this is literally the cutest thing I've ever seen and heard.

The "heard" part is vital here. Sound up for this. "Mine only best fwiend." It's absolutely too much and I can't get enough.

10. Blind woman gets an uplifting surprise from a restaurant whose staff went above and beyond to wish her a happy birthday.

It's always fun when a restaurant gives a patron a special birthday treat, but when TikTok user Natalie Te Paa realized the staff had created a Happy Birthday message for her in braille, her reaction was priceless. "So take heart," she wrote, "despite how broken the world is right now...true kindness still exists."

There you have it. Despite the brokenness that is so visible in our world right now, we can always find bright spots that lift our hearts, bring a smile to our faces, and restore our faith in humanity. We just have to look for them.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

via Pixabay

Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's

Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.

Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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