Northern Ireland is welcoming its new Syrian residents home with arms wide open.

The U.K. is accepting 20,000 Syrian refugees throughout the next five years as part of its Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, as BBC News reported. And on Dec. 15, 2015, the very first group of 11 families (51 individuals) arrived in Belfast.

From the looks of it, the families received quite the warm welcome.


Because, as is the case when welcoming any new neighbors to your 'hood, there's a few things you should provide, like...

1. Welcome signage.

There's nothing better than a colorful sign to let you know you've finally arrived.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

In this case, the sign was in the special welcome center in Belfast, where the families will be staying until they find more permanent homes.

2. Cozy sleeping quarters are vital too.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

Pro tip: A splash of color on one wall can only help brighten someone's day. (And if anyone's day could use a little brightening, it's someone whose life has been uprooted by war.)

3. And cards. Cute greeting cards are mandatory.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

These were made by local schoolchildren, excited to welcome and greet their new neighbors.

4. ... Seriously, you can never have too many cards.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

5. Also, make sure the fridge is kept stocked.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

These refugees lived in unstable, dangerous circumstances, waiting for some permanence and safety for months (sometimes, even years). They deserve a cold drink.

And make sure the clocks are ticking accurately, too.

6. And have holiday decorations on display.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

I mean, even if you don't celebrate Christmas, I think anyone can appreciate a festive Christmas tree.

7. That includes this adorable Christmas angel.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

Let's say it together: Awww.

8. Don't forget to have plenty of seating available.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

(OK maybe a little more seating for the next round of guests.)

9. Especially couch seating with soft pillows. (Yes, please.)

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

For folks who've traveled thousands of miles to make it to the U.K., a comfy seat goes a long way.

10. And, of course, useful kits that cover the basics.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

Emergency multilingual phrasebook? Check.

For families who've had everything stripped away from them, little things, like soap and toothbrushes — things many of us take for granted — are much appreciated.

11. And toys.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

12. ... Lots and lots of toys.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

13. Just like with cute greeting cards, you can never have too many toys.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

After all, playing games and being creative may just help children find relief after they've seen the brutal effects of war.

What these families have been through is unimaginable. They need our help.

There are more than 4.3 million Syrian refugees who've been severely affected by conflict in their country according to the UNHCR. That's why — instead of banning Muslims from entering the U.S. out of fear, or building walls to keep immigrants out — we should be finding ways to aid those most affected by terrorism in the Middle East.

(By the way, if you want to help a refugee child in need, here's one way you can do it.)

I gotta hand it to those folks over in Belfast — they know how to be neighborly.

They must have taken a hint from Canada.

Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

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A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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