How eerie mannequins are making people pay attention to a problem right in front of them.

Once all the life-size, huddled, hoodie-wearing mannequins are in place on the streets, Karen McHenry prepares to deliver her message using her bullhorn.

A group of people place slouched and hooded mannequins in public spaces around downtown Cleveland.

Why are they carrying them like that? What is this all about? What do the slogans on their sweatshirts say?


The reactions from the people walking by them say it all. They look confused, concerned, and slightly disturbed.

Watch the video, and see how long it takes for you to figure out what's happening:

This short video from Bellefair JCB might only be a minute long, but it sheds a much-needed light on people and issues that can seem invisible when we're not paying attention — even in places full of people.

The "Take a Closer Look" campaign wants to increase awareness of this problem to encourage a greater sense of empathy and compassion. The goal is to get pedestrians to notice and try to help the mannequins, who represent the huge population of young people living on the streets.

If you take a closer look, on each mannequin's hoodie is written a reason why young people might find themselves out on the street.

One sweatshirt reads: "My dad kicked me out because I'm gay."

Another says: "My mom's boyfriend hurts me."

Another hoodie's heartbreaking message is poignant: "I'm missing and my parents don't care."

Sometimes it takes uncomfortable and dramatic images like people walking past these mannequins without a second thought to remind us to think twice about how we can help homeless youth.

You never know what circumstances led up to a teen becoming homeless.

There are about 1.3 million homeless youth in the U.S. on any given night, and many don't have a choice.

This video is a powerful reminder that homeless youth are around us, often in plain sight. It's up to us to take a closer look and offer help when we can.

Maybe the next time you're out in public and see someone young, lost, and living on the street — offer a helping hand. You may be exactly what they need to turn their life around.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

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First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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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.