13 reasons why giving blood after Orlando matters so much.

On the morning of June 12, 2016, people lined up at a local blood bank in St. Petersburg, Florida, ready to wait for hours.

Following the deadly overnight attacks at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left (at the time of writing) 50 dead and another 53 wounded, local blood banks and hospitals put out calls for blood donations to help treat the injured.

People turned up in droves.

FBI agents outside Pulse nightclub June 12 in Orlando, Florida, after a fatal shooting and hostage situation. Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images.

Just over 100 miles west of Orlando in St. Petersburg, a city known for hosting Florida's largest Pride parade each year, the wait to donate blood at one OneBlood location topped two hours — with dozens more donors making appointments to come back later in the week.

Families arrived together, with teenagers asking how old they had to be to donate too. Family members and spouses of OneBlood employees came to take names for appointment times and hand out snacks and water. Donors volunteered to bring more supplies. Everyone was looking for any way they could find to help — no matter how small.

Though OneBlood's Sunday hours usually end at noon, the organization pledged to stay open as long as donors were still in line.

Here are what 13 blood donors in St. Petersburg had to say in their own words:

1. "We have to show the world there is more good in it than bad."

"I'm donating because we have to show the world there is more good in it than bad. Hate is NOT the answer." — Jamie, St. Petersburg. Photos by Caitlin Duffy/Upworthy.

2. "I want to help make a difference."

"I’m donating because I’m a nurse and I want to help make a difference." — Mallory, 25, Pinellas Park, Florida.

3. "I believe that the tragic event in Orlando last night highlights our nation's increasing problem of gun violence."

"My name is Julien Turner, I'm here on vacation in St. Petersburg, visiting my sisters and mother. I'm currently living in Portsmouth, NH. I believe that the tragic event in Orlando last night highlights our nation's increasing problem of gun violence, which calls for solidarity of Americans in general, and domestic violence at large. I'd like to support the victims in the best way possible, by giving blood per The American Red Cross' request." — Julien, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

4. "I felt compelled to do anything I could to help those affected."

"In the wake of the Orlando Pulse tragedy, I felt compelled to do anything I could to help those affected. When I received the text from One Blood saying my blood type was scarce, I knew immediately that I should be donating today!" — Karla, 29, St. Petersburg.

5. "There is a crisis within our Community right now."

"My wife and I are donating because there is a crisis within our Community right now. We feel the best way we can help is by donating blood. Our thoughts are with our fellow lgbtsq's and thier families." — Erin and Andrea, 40 and 39, St. Petersburg.

6. "Regardless of any reasons of why, or other speculations on the shooter, I'm doing this to help those who were affected by this horrible act."

"I felt a strong responsibility to help when I heard the news this morning. Regardless of any reasons of why, or other speculations on the shooter, I'm doing this to help those who were affected by this horrible act. If my donation can help, I want to help. I'm sure many here share the same sentiments. #PrayForOrlando." — Jennifer, 34, St. Petersburg.

7. "I feel helpless in the face of this targeted attack against the lgbtq community."

"Im donating today because i feel helpless in the face of this targeted attack against the lgbtq community" — Chris, 32, St. Petersburg.

8. "People like me deserve to live in safety and health."

"Im giving blood because im queer and people like me deserve to live in safety and health." — Keeli, 20, St. Petersburg.

9. "God not only calls us to pray in times like these, but He also calls us to action."

"I’m donating because it’s an easy way to help make a difference in response to such a senseless tragedy. God not only calls us to pray in times like these, but He also calls us to action." — Kelsey, 24, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

10. "I am donating because my heart aches."

“I am donating because my heart aches for these kids that were tragically taken away last night." — Frank, St. Petersburg.

11. "I'm donating because I wanted to do something positive."

"I’m donating because I wanted to do something positive in the midst of all the horror." — Michelle, 54, St. Petersburg.

12. "I want to help in the only way I know."

"I am donating because I want to help in the only way I know during the tragic time." — Lisa, 33, Largo, Florida.

13. "We cannot let ourselves and our culture to be controlled by hate and fear."

"I am donating blood as a way to fight against hate. This attack in Orlando was a targeted attack against a group that already feels a lot of pressure and fear just to be themselves. We cannot let ourselves and our culture to be controlled by hate and fear. While I am not part of the LGBT community myself, I have many wonderful family members, friends and co-workers that are, and this is a way to support them. My little bit of time and blood can save a life, and this is the most ethical thing I can do." — Evan, 22, St. Petersburg.

In the wake of a tragedy, there are always people willing to help in any way they can.

On June 12, 2016, over 50 families woke up to the worst kind of phone call. The families of others waited, terrified, outside a hospital for news of their loved ones.

The blood, platelets, and plasma donated by strangers in the wake of this, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, will help hospitals treat not just the victims and survivors of the attack on Pulse nightclub, but those injured by gun violence tomorrow and in the future as well.

That's what makes everyone who turned out at blood donation centers — and the compassion that motivated them to do so in the wake of this attack on the LGBTQ community — so important, so necessary, and so appreciated.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates


The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."