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The Samel family immigrated to the U.S. from Sudan in 2010. They became naturalized citizens in May 2015 and moved into a new house in Iowa City, Iowa, that December.

The house had actually been built for them with help from Habitat for Humanity and as part of the city's National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of 9/11. The Muslim family — Amar Samel and his wife, Muna Abdalla, along with their four children — were happily settling into their new American lives, including jobs and schooling.

They'd been living in the house 11 months when Amar Samel returned home from a memorial service to find a less-than-welcoming note on the door:

“You can all go home now. We don’t want (a racial epithet) and terrorists here. #Trump.”

Photo via Stephen Mally/The (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Gazette, used with permission.


That was Nov. 11, 2016, the Friday after Election Day. Judging by the hashtag stamped on the end of the hateful message, the timing was no coincidence.

Unfortunately, when Samel called the police, they were not particularly helpful at first. According to Samel, the officer he spoke with on the phone declined to visit the house or take a formal statement and told Samel to simply take the note down and throw it away.

"This disappointed me more than the action itself because I was looking for kind of support," Samel told the Iowa City Press-Citizen. "Because the police obviously represent for us, represent somebody supporting you. The law. The power. So nobody’s above the law."

The police administration has since assigned a detective to investigate the case. The Iowa City Area CrimeStoppers also stepped in to offer a $1,000 reward for information about the culprits behind the note.

Photo via Stephen Mally/The (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Gazette, used with permission.

But as word of the incident began to spread around Iowa City, the Samels' fellow Iowans found other ways to show their support.

Strangers and friends alike banded together to flood the family with neighborly love and true hospitality, sending them cookies, cards, flowers, and balloons and chalking affectionate messages on their driveway.

"I'm glad your [sic] my brother's best friend," wrote one classmate to the Samels' son, Mohammed.

"You are very nice people. You should stay," someone scribbled on the asphalt outside their home. "We're glad you're here!" another wrote.

Photo via Stephen Mally/The (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Gazette, used with permission.

"You hear about these things happening, but you don’t really know if it’s true. When I heard people say this was their neighbor, it really hit home," one Iowan told The Gazette after dropping off a flower bouquet at the Samel family home the Monday after the incident.

Photo via Stephen Mally/The (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Gazette, used with permission.

Sarah Widdick Shaw saw the Samels' heartbreaking story in The Gazette and shared it with the famous secret Facebook group Pantsuit Nation.

Shaw urged her fellow group members to keep the lovefest going for the Samel family by sending them even more notes, cards, and gifts through The Gazette, whose address she included in the post.

"I only hope that there were enough to make a difference for them," she said. "It's not much, sending letters of support, but gezzus we have to do something to counteract all this hate."

Within the hour, the post had been shared by more than a hundred people. Other users shared photos of their cards, letters, baked goods, and handmade gifts such as stickers and temporary tattoos. Some people even made donations to Habitat for Humanity because they'd helped to build the family's home.

Photo via Stephen Mally/The (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Gazette, used with permission.

By the Monday before Thanksgiving, The Gazette had received more than a hundred cards and letters, all looking to be delivered to the Samels.

The family was overwhelmed by the support. When The Gazette asked if the family wanted to respond to this outpouring of support, Amar Samel answered, "Tell them we are OK. Everything will be OK. We are relieved by knowing that, this is life, always there is good and bad, but the good is always more."

Just a few of the cards received at the Gazette office. Image via the Samel family.

Recent events may have invigorated a new surge of hate in America, but it's inspired even more people to show how big their hearts can be.

"Hopefully the next generation will have more warmth in their hearts," Sarah Widdick Shaw said after seeing the response to her Facebook post. Though maybe that warmth is already there. We just need to make sure we're actively, openly sharing it for all the world to feel and see.

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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