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Comic book author Marc Andreyko was just going to bed late Saturday, June 11, 2016, when he heard there had been a shooting at a nightclub in Orlando.

When he woke up the next morning, he was crushed by the news. 49 people were dead, and dozens more had been injured in an attack on Florida's LGBTQ community.

A candlelight vigil in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images.


"I was horrified and sickened," says Andreyko over email. "As a gay man who was a teen during the AIDS crisis, I have seen far too much death and hatred and ambivalence toward it. Orlando hit me hard and I was flooded with the feelings of powerlessness I felt back then."

An accomplished comic book writer and seasoned storyteller, Andreyko knew that with his great power came the great responsibility to channel his feelings into something productive. Within eight hours, he announced on Facebook that he would be embarking on a new project in remembrance of the victims.

Together with dozens of artists, he put together a massive comic anthology about a single subject: love.

The book, appropriately titled "Love Is Love," is a massive collaboration between comic book writers, artists, and familiar faces, from Patton Oswalt to J.K. Rowling to comic book legends like artist Jim Lee.

Each contributed a single page of artwork, story, or dedication to the 144-page tome, and all sale proceeds will go to Equality Florida, an organization that supports the LGBTQ community in Florida.

The project even brought together competing publishers so that characters like Superman, Harry Potter, and the cast of Archie could appear in the book together despite exclusive contracts — all in the name of charity and goodwill.

"I think art can always make a difference," Andreyko says.

He knows that artists and storytellers have an important part to play in fostering conversations and a unique ability to reach people.

Comic books in particular have played a key role in media representation. Dozens of famous and recognizable characters have had LGBTQ storylines in recent years, including Batwoman, who's been openly gay since 2006 and whom Andreyko wrote for in 2013.

DC Comics also featured the first ever lesbian engagement in a comic when Batwoman proposed to her partner Maggie Sawyer. Image via DC Entertainment/YouTube.

"[Art] can make the tough and political more human and emotionally connected, and with the metaphors of genre, it can make people see things in a new way," Andreyko says.

Compiling the anthology was a long and arduous process, but Andreyko says that seeing the artwork every day kept him motivated.

"When things got emotionally tough or frustrating, all the art, the hard work, the expressions of love from so many busy, talented and generous folks, well, that was all I needed to keep moving forward," Andreyko says.

To purchase the "Love Is Love" anthology, check out IDW Publishing's website, and for more information on Equality Florida, visit their website.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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