After her son was stillborn, this mom pumped enough milk to feed 6 babies.

Wendy Cruz-Chan was only 19 weeks pregnant with her son Killian when she was diagnosed with a rare uterine infection that led to him being stillborn.

Photo via Wendy Cruz-Chan.

While she was still reeling, emotionally devastated by the loss, Cruz-Chan noticed that her body was still preparing for a baby. Her breasts were so engorged they were leaking.


Determined not to let the negative feelings get her down, she decided to do something positive: She would donate her breast milk to moms with babies in need.

"I felt like my job being his mother was not done," says Cruz-Chan over the phone. "I needed to do more. I couldn’t dress him. I couldn’t hold him more. I couldn’t feed him and watch him grow. I needed to do something more to fulfill my purpose as a mother."

Cruz-Chan's husband supported her plan, and together, they started pumping and storing for moms and babies in need.

As a doula, Cruz-Chan already had connections to local new mom groups online, so she simply reached out and told them she had milk to spare.

A whole lot of it.

Photo via Wendy Cruz-Chan.

The process of getting the milk was exhausting. They were often up in the middle of the night relieving her swollen breasts — a common reality facing women who lose their babies.

In the end, however, Cruz-Chan says it was worth it.

After three months of pumping, she was able to donate 2,038 ounces (almost 16 gallons) of milk to six babies who needed it.

Photo via Wendy Cruz-Chan.

"Looking at those babies’ faces I was helping warms my heart," said Cruz-Chan. "It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. Like I’m doing something to make sure my son’s milk is being used with lots of love."

There are many reasons why it might be more difficult for some moms to breastfeed than others. One baby in particular, named Mackenzie, who has a genetic disorder called epidermolysis bullosa (EB), especially benefited from Cruz-Chan's donation. As a result of EB, Mackenzie's skin is very fragile and she often breaks out in blisters. Cruz-Chan's milk, however, seemed to soothe her digestive track, which in turn helped calm her condition.

Cruz-Chan says the whole experience not only gave her a sense of purpose, but it also helped her grieve and mourn the loss of her son.

Now, she's raising money to get CuddleCots — beds that help preserve stillborn babies longer so parents can spend more time with them — into hospitals in New York City.

"People don’t want to talk about stillbirths, but they happen every day, and women suffer more because they feel like they can’t talk about it," she says.

October is Infant Loss Awareness Month. This is the time to be sharing stories like these to help support women and families who have lost children.

If you've recently lost a child and are looking to donate your breast milk, Cruz-Chan encourages you to reach out to your local breast milk bank or new mom and doula online communities. "Surround yourself with people who truly support your decision," she encouraged.

Helping other moms and babies may end up being the right experience to help you get closure and move forward with your life. It certainly was for Cruz-Chan.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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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.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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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."