A Muslim family got a hateful letter, and over 100 people answered it with kindness.

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.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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