Meme artist raises more than $2 million in 5 hours to rescue Afghans on Taliban kill list

We've all spent several days watching the news from Afghanistan with a mixture of horror, sadness, and frustration. Images of crowds of people clamoring to get onto planes at the Kabul airport, human beings clinging to a flying jet before falling to their deaths from the sky, hordes of men, women, and children desperate to escape a violent, extremist regime crammed like sardines into U.S. cargo planes—it's all too much.

We know there are so many people we can't help. That's the tragic reality. But there are people we can help. And that's happening, right now, on the internet and on the ground in Afghanistan.



A humanitarian mission has been pulled together by former U.S. military and special operations personnel to get hundreds of people on the Taliban's kill list out of the country as soon as possible. The mission includes two planes, deep connections on the ground in Afghanistan, and the logistical know-how to get a group of 300+ women's rights activists, translators and their families, as well as other high-value targets who are in imminent danger out of the country.

Several collaborators are coordinating the mission.

Sheffield Ford, a U.S. veteran with 24 years of service within the Army's Special Forces, runs the private special missions company Raven Advisory, LLC. Ford was deployed in Afghanistan during his active duty time and has extensive knowledge of how things work on the ground there, as well as connections to the people in need of rescue.

Karen Kraft, an Army veteran who runs VME, a professional association of U.S. military veterans working in media and entertainment, also has connections to Afghans on the Taliban kill list. She is coordinating with people on the ground to get them out. Ford and Kraft have been working together for about a week to get specific people on the flight manifest who have been thoroughly vetted and known to be targets of the Taliban.

As GOOD's Head of Content and Innovation Gabe Reilich (who also served as an adviser for the mission) says:

"Afghanistan is heading down an uncertain path - and for some, that uncertainty could potentially be a matter of life and death. So many people have been watching this tragedy unfold, wondering what they can do to make an immediate difference. And now that's possible. We're hoping this effort can make a real impact, can save real lives, can help those who need help immediately."

"Let there be no mistake, human decency and action make it possible to change the world—and we at GOOD and Upworthy are deeply moved to be a part of this urgent, life-saving campaign. We ask that you join us -- because together we can be a force for good."

The planes, being supplied by a defense related products trading company, have pilots who are dedicated to carrying out this humanitarian mission. Two piloted aircraft are ready and prepared to go in within the next day to bring the people on the manifest to a country of asylum. The cost is the only real hangup, as each plane full of passengers (including fuel, crew, security, clearances, etc.) costs $225,000. (Looking at it another way, it costs $1500 per life saved, which seems a lot less daunting.) The hope was to get at least one planeload of people out, but mission operators were pushing for two or more.

Now here's the really incredible part. The money for the mission is coming from everyday people who care and want to do something to help. Through a GoFundMe campaign, the incredible online community built by meme artist/fundraiser extraordinaire Tommy Marcus (aka @Quentin.Quarantino) showed up big time.

The funds for the first planeload were raised in just 38 minutes.

And in a little over an hour, people had donated the full amount needed for two planeloads. 11,000 people donating $550,000, for an average donation of $50 a person, just like that. Amazing.





The goal has now been increased again to $2.2 million in the hopes of getting more planeloads of people out. Any funds raised that do not end up being used for the rescue will be donated to the International Women's Media Foundation, which is helping protect women journalists who are at high-risk in Afghanistan.


Things are moving fast in Afghanistan and there are lots of moving parts in such a rescue mission, but this is what people can do when we rally together, look for able and willing partners to team up with, and invite others to contribute.

"For everyone out there who is tired of the finger-pointing, tired of the virtue-signaling without acti"on—this is for us. The opportunity to make a real impact, save real lives, help those people who need help immediately," Reilich said. "It's felt hopeless sitting on the sidelines watching this tragedy unfold, and now it's possible to actually help."


Indeed. Read more about the mission and the fundraiser here.


CORRECTION: The original publication of this article contained the wrong name of the company that owns the planes being used. That information has been updated.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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