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Joy

A 12-year-old was told his woodworking hobby wasn't cool. One tweet changed everything.

He went from six Instagram followers to raising more than $300,000 with one bowl for Ukraine.

A 12-year-old was told his woodworking hobby wasn't cool. One tweet changed everything.

Gabriel Clark's woodworking hobby just became very, very cool.

One of the tough things about being middle-school-aged is that interests and hobbies that are cool to everyone who isn't middle-school-aged are often seen as not cool by your peers. Unfortunately, that can lead a lot of kids to abandon things they love.

A dad who didn't want to see that happen inadvertently set off an avalanche of support and generosity when he tweeted about a lack of peer support for his son's woodworking hobby. Gabriel Clark, his 12-year-old son, has loved making things with wood since he was first handed his grandfather's hammer when he was 3 or 4 years old. "I've always had a real passion for it," Gabriel told PEOPLE, "and I've just taught myself everything I know."

Gabriel's father, Richard Clark, explained how sharing his son's struggles with his peers over his hobby blew up the internet over the past few weeks.

"Three weeks ago my youngest, Gabriel 12, came home upset," Clark wrote in a tweet on April 15. "His love of woodwork was not deemed cool, nor was only having 6 followers on his Instagram.


"His Dad was upset too. It's hard watching your children battling with life. But what to do? Mum wasn't around, so Dad, the impulsive fool that he is, instead reached out to the lovely people on Twitter. Maybe he could persuade some of them to follow his son?"

Clark's tweet on March 25 had read: "Lovely twitter people - I don't know how many of you are also #instagram users but I'm looking for a wee favour. I've a 12yr old who loves woodwork. He spends hours on his lathe making bowls and creating chopping boards which he's sells to save up for a mountain bike. So I was wondering if any of you fancied giving him a boost and following him on instagram at clarkie_woodwork it would make his day. Thanks in advance and feel free to retweet!"

Clark said his son was aiming for 60 followers.

But very soon, Clark's Instagram follower count rocketed into the hundreds, then the thousands.

Within days, that number had exploded to more than 225,000—and more than 20,000 orders for Gabriel's handmade bowls and chopping boards.

Knowing there was no way for him to fulfill that many orders—or anything even close to it—the young man decided to just make one special bowl to auction as a fundraiser for Ukraine.

He created a bowl made of beech wood, which includes a blue band and a yellow band, reflecting the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

The Clark family set up a Just Giving page with a goal of raising £5,000 and invited people to donate for a chance to win the bowl in a drawing.

And as happened with Gabriel's Instagram following, the amount just kept growing and growing.

With the increased giving came increased hope.

"What if we threw caution to the wind and let go of our cynicism and really went for it?" Richard Clark wrote. "What if we blew this silly tale of a small boy and his bowl out of the water with a last swing shot around the moon?"

He suggested people pool together to chip in and see if they could give the Save the Children Ukraine Appeal £100,000.

As it turned out, £100,000 was not only doable, but surpassable. As of April 16, they'd raised £150,000 and Gabriel shared a message of thanks.

The drawing was held, but it still wasn't over. The Ukraine bowl has now gone to a donor somewhere south of where the Clarks live…

…but the Clarks decided to keep the fundraiser open a little bit longer, as people moved by Gabriel's story were still wanting to donate.

With Gabriel's Instagram following blossoming to 250,000, it only seems fitting that the fundraiser should push for £250,000.

As of the writing of this article, it's at £246,711 (over $320,872). Clark said the fundraiser will stay open until Saturday.

"It's all too much. I need to sleep," Richard Clark wrote. "I leave everything to you. RT if you wish. Or not. You've all done more than enough. The fundraiser closes on Saturday regardless. Tread kindly good people and bless you all."

Social media really can be used for good, friends.

Kristen Bell announces This Saves Lives new partnership with Upworthy.

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Every day, Upworthy shares stories that spotlight the very best of humanity. But if there’s one cause that unites us all, it’s solving child hunger.

In a recent poll of our followers, we found that child hunger is the issue they care about most. So today, we’re doing something about it. We’ve joined forces with humanitarian snack brand This Saves Lives to end child hunger.

This Saves Lives co-founder, actress Kristen Bell.

This Saves Lives was founded in 2013 with the goal of ending early childhood severe acute malnutrition. Its solution is simple, for every snack you purchase, they give life-saving food to a child in need. This Saves Lives has already donated over 30 million packets of lifesaving food in Haiti, Guatemala, Kenya and beyond. We hope our new partnership works to feed millions more.

“Will you join us? It’s easy and delicious.” — Kristen Bell.

Join us and explore delicious snacks that give back at thissaveslives.com/doinggoodtogether.

Identity

Gay choir teacher breaks down when his class gives a surprise performance at his wedding

Christopher Landis had kept his marriage secret because he wasn't sure how students or parents would react.

via Pexels

Two men exchanging rings in a wedding ceremony.

Christopher Landis, a choir director at Hingham Middle School in Massachusetts, didn’t tell his students he was engaged to Joe Michienzie three years ago. According to Inside Edition, whenever they asked who Michienzie was, Christopher would say, "That's Joe. He's my friend."

Landis kept his relationship a secret in front of his students because he wasn’t sure how their parents would react. Sadly, even today, LGBTQ people still have to be discreet about their personal lives in some professions.

This is sad for the teachers who have to stay closeted and also for the LGBTQ students who miss out on having a positive role model.

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Sponsored

This is the most important van in NYC… and it’s full of socks.

How can socks make such a huge difference? You'd be surprised.

all photos provided by Coalition for The Homeless

Every night, the van delivers nourishment in all kinds of ways to those who need it most

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Homelessness in New York City has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Over 50,000 people sleep each night in a shelter, while thousands of others rely on city streets, the subway system and other public locations as spaces to rest.

That’s why this meal (and sock) delivery van is an effective resource for providing aid to those experiencing homelessness in New York City.

Every night of the year, from 7pm to 9:30, the Coalition for the Homeless drives a small fleet of vans to over 25 stops throughout upper and lower Manhattan and in the Bronx. At each stop, adults and families in need can receive a warm meal, a welcoming smile from volunteers, and a fresh, comfy new pair of Bombas socks. Socks may be even more important than you think.

Bombas was founded in 2013 after the discovery that socks were the #1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.

Access to fresh, clean socks is often limited for individuals experiencing homelessness—whether someone is living on the street and walking for much of the day, or is unstably housed without reliable access to laundry or storage. And for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness —expenses might need to be prioritized for more critical needs like food, medication, school supplies, or gas. Used socks can’t be donated to shelters for hygienic reasons, making this important item even more difficult to supply to those who need it the most.

Bombas offers its consumers durable, long-lasting and comfortable socks, and for every pair of Bombas socks purchased, an additional pair of specially-designed socks is donated to organizations supporting those in need, like Coalition for the Homeless. What started out as a simple collaboration with a few organizations and nonprofits to help individuals without housing security has quickly become a bona fide giving movement. Bombas now has approximately 3,500 Giving Partners nationwide.

Though every individual’s experience is unique, there can frequently be an inherent lack of trust of institutions that want to help—making a solution even more challenging to achieve. “I’ve had people reach out when I’m handing them a pair of socks and their hands are shaking and they’re looking around, and they’re wondering ‘why is this person being nice to me?’” Robbi Montoya—director at Dorothy Day House, another Giving Partner—told Bombas.

Donations like socks are a small way to create connection. And they can quickly become something much bigger. Right now over 1,000 people receive clothing and warm food every night, rain or shine, from a Coalition for the Homeless van. That bit of consistent kindness during a time of struggle can help offer the feeling of true support. This type of encouragement is often crucial for organizations to help those take the next difficult steps towards stability.

This philosophy helped Bombas and its abundance of Giving Partners extend their reach beyond New York City. Over 75 million clothing items have been donated to those who need it the most across all 50 states. Over the years Bombas has accumulated all kinds of valuable statistics, information, and highlights from Giving Partners similar to the Coalition for the Homeless vans and Dorothy Day House, which can be found in the Bombas Impact Report.

In the Impact Report, you’ll also find out how to get involved—whether it’s purchasing a pair of Bombas socks to get another item donated, joining a volunteer group, or shifting the conversation around homelessness to prioritize compassion and humanity.

To find out more, visit BeeBetter.com.

Jennifer Aniston shared her difficulties trying to have a baby in an interview with Allure.

For years, rumors of Jennifer Aniston possibly being pregnant have circulated through the media and internet gossip mill. Aniston has called these rumors "nasty" and "hurtful," but has largely kept quiet about that part of her personal life.

Now, at 53, Aniston is opening up about her efforts to have a baby and countless women are seeing themselves in her fertility journey.

In an interview with Allure magazine, Aniston shared that she spent years during her 30s and 40s trying to get pregnant amid the repeated, swirling rumors that she was.

"It was a challenging road for me, the baby-making road," she said. “All the years and years and years of speculation...It was really hard. I was going through IVF, drinking Chinese teas, you name it. I was throwing everything at it. I would’ve given anything if someone had said to me, ‘Freeze your eggs. Do yourself a favor.’ You just don’t think it. So here I am today. The ship has sailed.”

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