Chicago's 'hero movers' are a reminder of how hard leaving abusive relationships can be.

When a three-man moving crew saw a woman frantically running out of a dental office in Chicago, they knew she was in trouble. And they knew they could help.

Josh Lara, Cody Grant, and Mike Zaininger were unloading a truck in Chicago's West Loop back in October when a woman ran up to them, asking to use their phone, telling them that someone was shooting.

That someone was the woman's abusive ex-boyfriend. He was carrying a gun, and he was looking for her. "She knew she was being looked for, the way she was hiding," Zaininger told DNA Info Chicago at the time. "It was just our instinct to try and protect and help her," Lara said.


The three movers acted quickly to hide the woman in their truck, likely saving her life. Her ex, unable to find her, fatally shot himself outside the dental office where she worked.

On Dec. 14, 2016, the three "hero movers" — as they've been called — were honored by their local city council.

Lara, Grant, and Zaininger being honored by their city council. Photo via 25th Ward.

An official city proclamation thanked the men for their "selfless display of bravery" and "remarkable display of courage and quick-thinking." The three heroes were surrounded by their loved ones and family, with Cody Grant's youngest son wearing a shirt reading "My Dad Is My Hero."

Escaping an abusive relationship is not usually as simple as running outside and asking for help.

Abusers purposely make their victims feel small and helpless to convince them the abuse is their own fault. They cut their victims off from support networks and often use financial control and manipulation and emotional abuse to ensure their victims stay quiet and have no means of escape.

A woman walks through the streets of Paris with fake blood for International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Photo by Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images.

"Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship," reads the Domestic Violence Intervention Program website. The woman who the hero movers hid was lucky to find them — and even luckier that they acted quickly to help her and didn't stop to ask questions or turn the other way.

There are things you can do if you suspect that someone is being emotionally or physically abused or if someone comes to you asking for help.

A good first step is to familiarize yourself with the warning signs of abuse, which can help you identify an abusive relationship that might not seem like one at first.

If you want to help a friend or family member, you should also try to understand why that person might not want to leave the relationship or why they might not even think they're being abused. Shaming them for that or pressuring them to escape can actually be counterproductive. Instead, make yourself someone they can trust and talk to no matter what.

A photo exhibition of murdered women in Ankara, Turkey, as a protest against violence toward women. Photo by Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images.

Because leaving abusive relationships puts women at such high risk of retaliation from their partners, it's important to develop a safety plan that also accounts for the safety of kids, pets, and family members.

We won't all find ourselves in situations where we can be like the hero movers, but stopping domestic violence is up to all of us.

The woman in Chicago was in direct and immediate danger. She was being hunted by an angry abuser who had a gun on him. But instances of domestic abuse won't always be that extreme. There isn't any one type of person who can find themselves stuck in an abusive relationship. It happens to women, it happens to men, and it happens in LGBTQ relationships as well.

If abuse is happening to someone you know, don't assume that someone else will step in, and don't assume that that person will eventually help themselves. You can, and should, be the person that speaks up in a productive way when you see it.

In Chicago, when the movers stepped in, they saved a woman's life. They also demonstrated the simple power of being there. They did the right thing, and it should inspire all of us to do the same whenever we can.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call or visit the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, 800-799-7233

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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The 1776 Report isn't just bad, it's historically bad, in every way possible.

When journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones published her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, some backlash was inevitable. Instead of telling the story of America's creation through the eyes of the colonial architects of our system of government, Hannah-Jones retold it through the eyes of the enslaved Africans who were forced to help build the nation without reaping the benefits of democracy. Though a couple of historical inaccuracies have had to be clarified and corrected, the 1619 Project is groundbreaking, in that it helps give voice to a history that has long been overlooked and underrepresented in our education system.

The 1776 Report, in turn, is a blaring call to return to the whitewashed curriculums that silence that voice.

In September of last year, President Trump blasted the 1619 Project, which he called "toxic propaganda" and "ideological poison" that "will destroy our country." He subsequently created a commission to tell the story of America's founding the way he wanted it told—in the form of a "patriotic education" with all of the dog whistles that that phrase entails.

Mission accomplished, sort of.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.