+

An unrelenting wildfire in Western Canada has forced the evacuation of more than 88,000 people.

The massive blaze devastated the bustling town of Fort McMurray, Alberta, which was evacuated on May 3. More communities have followed suit, with Gregoire Lake Estates and Anzac residents also forced to evacuate.


A photograph from the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Department shows smoke rising from a heavily wooded area. Photo by Lynn Daina /AFP/Getty Images.

Whipping winds pushed flames toward homes and businesses, as clouds of thick smoke filled the air. Residents barely had time to get out, only grabbing the bare necessities before fleeing to safety at one of the area's work camps, which are doubling as temporary shelters.

A young girl sits on a cot at a makeshift shelter. Photo by Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images.

"For some reason I really wanted my son's first pair of shoes," evacuee Jason Blair told CBC television.

But amidst uncertainty, fear, and destruction, there are helpers and there is hope.

All across Canada, emergency response professionals, civilians, and perfect strangers are stepping up to help each other and get through this tragedy. Here are a few of the bright spots in the wake of this disaster.

1. Countless people have pitched in to donate clothes and food.

When you have to run for your life, clean clothes quickly become a luxury. Alberta residents stepped up big time for their neighbors in need. Food, diapers, and baby formula were also popular donations.

A woman sorts through donations at makeshift evacuation center in Lac La Biche, Alberta. Photo by Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images.

And not a moment too soon.

2. Canadian airline WestJet lent a hand — er, wing — for the cause.

They flew supplies in and offered to evacuate anyone in need of medical treatment.


3. In situations like this, everyone needs water. Les Wiley took to the streets to deliver it some to people evacuating their homes.

Photo by Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images.

4. These workers from construction company Ledcor live at camps for long stretches, but they happily gave up their beds to people evacuating the fire.

5. These refugees from Syria are new to Calgary, but they're no stranger to loss. That's why they're helping out the evacuees.

Annalise Klingbeil of the Calgary Herald spoke with one new Canadian, who shared why she feels such a strong desire to help.

6. The community is stepping up for four-legged friends too.

The Edmonton Humane Society is rescuing and housing displaced and stray animals from the area indefinitely until the owners return to claim them. Local store Champion Petfoods is supplying free food for dogs and cats at their main office.

Hang in there, kitty. This purr-fect pet isn't in Edmonton, but lots of sweet displaced dogs and cats are. Photo by Angela N./Flickr.

Ready to pitch in? Here are the best ways to help.

If you're in Canada, especially Alberta, consider donating needed supplies to an emergency relief location. Call or tweet before you go to make sure they're accepting donations, especially the items you'd like to contribute.

Madeline Cummings of the Edmonton Examiner shared a list of needs from one emergency outpost.

And if you're not close by (or even if you are) and your budget allows, you might consider giving a monetary contribution.

When tragedy strikes, food and supplies can go a long way, but with cash, shelters can buy things in bulk, so your $5 donation may go farther than $5 spent on canned goods at the store.

No matter how you help, it's important that we come together to support each other.

In times like these, every hug, every kind word, and every donation can mean the world to someone in need. With acts of kindness big and small, all of us can help the families and communities affected by tragedy.

Photo by Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less

RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


Keep ReadingShow less