Amazing before and afters: Families in need get their homes completely furnished.

If you're homeless, the move from living in a shelter, car, or on the street to having a place to call your own marks a major step forward in finding stable ground. But it doesn't solve everything.

"It's not like, 'OK, I have a home now, I'm all better,'" Donna Somerville, co-founder of the nonprofit Grateful Gatherings, explains in the video below. If families don't have the basics inside the home — like beds, lamps, tables, and chairs — how are they going to keep up outside of it? "How well are you going to do at your job? How well are your kids going to do at school?"

Grateful Gatherings helps make this process easier by furnishing the homes of families transitioning out of homelessness.

You can see how big of a difference they're making to families in this incredibly touching video:


Homemaking for families in need.

This volunteer-led project brings the comfort of home to families when they need it most. (via Grateful Gatherings)

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The video follows Grateful Gatherings as they surprise two families with their furnished homes.

The first is a family of four. When Grateful Gatherings came into their lives, mom and dad didn't have jackets for their children to stay warm.

Now, they have jackets — and a lot more.

All GIFs from Grateful Gatherings.

The second family is a single mom, who became homeless after leaving an abusive partner, and her 1-year-old and 7-year-old daughters.

Now, the family of three has all the basics (and more), under one roof.

Although the "before and after" shots are sure to spark a few smiles ...

... it's what the home furnishings actually mean for the health and well-being of these families that makes the difference.

"If we can create a space that is warm ... where they have the things they need, where they can get a good night's sleep, where they can enjoy family time — the family, the kids, the parents are all going to do better in the outside world," explains Somerville.

Grateful Gatherings is fueled by donations from supporters and a team of volunteers who help organize and move the home furnishings. This year, the San Francisco Bay Area group has served dozens of families — 125 individuals in total — and hopes to expand its services in 2018.

Its work makes a world of difference to these parents and children.

"This is the best day ever," a girl featured in the video explained after having walked into her newly furnished home. "Now I have three Christmases, because I have my birthday, Christmas, and this." ❤️

To learn more about Grateful Gatherings, visit the nonprofit's website.

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.

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."