How generosity helped this six-year-old with cancer live out her dream of being a designer.
Macy's

Elizabeth and her design team

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First-grader Elizabeth is a fashionista. Her "passion" as she puts it, is designing dresses and she hopes to one day make it her career. When she was three years old, however, her future didn't look so clear.

Six days after her family had moved to Reno, Nevada, Elizabeth was diagnosed with leukemia. Her father was just starting a new job, their things were still in boxes and all of a sudden, their world was turned upside down. "We had no support network," says Elizabeth's mom. "And then we had a new diagnosis to make sense of. It took a while to find a new normal." That new normal included 26 months of cancer treatment.

The treatment was hard on Elizabeth and her family. Then came a major infusion of support and positivity from the nonprofit Make-A-Wish, an organization that grants the wishes of children battling critical illnesses. The hope of a wish was something Elizabeth really needed; at the end of 2019 when she learned her wish was coming true, she still had six months of treatment left.

Last November, Macy's celebrated with Elizabeth at her local Macy's store in Reno, NV and surprised her announcing that her wish to design a dress was coming true.

ElizabethAll photos courtesy of Macy's

"The middle of winter, drained from 20 plus months of treatment, it really gave us something special to look forward to," said Elizabeth's mom.


Together with Macy's, Make-A-Wish gave Elizabeth the chance to create her own, original dress design, with professional guidance from the experts at Macy's Fashion Office. "I got to work with the designers," says Elizabeth. "They were so nice and fashion forward. They helped me find ideas."

Elizabeth scoping fabrics

"She loved meeting with Durand and Suzanne of Macy's and was really inspired by them and their leadership," says Elizabeth's mom.

The Macy's fashion designers did most of the sketching, but Elizabeth gave them direction and picked the pattern for the fabric. The best part for her was seeing the finished product in person. "It has a flower pattern and fluttery sleeves and it has tiers. It is beautiful," she says. Since then, she's been sketching her own designs, and can't wait to create more dresses.

Elizabeth working on a design

"She had never really known how to do that before, and they even gifted her a few new dress sketching books and coloring pens to get her started," says Elizabeth's mom.

Make-A-Wish couldn't make wishes like Elizabeth's happen without the support of generous donors and longstanding partners, like Macy's. Since 2003, Macy's has helped Make-A-Wish fulfill over 15,500 wishes for children across the country by raising more than $132 million for the organization. A big part of that fundraising effort is the Macy's Believe Campaign; where anyone can write letters to Santa (primarily on the Macy's website this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, though Macy's is still accepting letters in-store at the red Believe letterboxes or safely at curbside), and for every letter submitted, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish up to $1 million.

Through 11/15, Macy's customers can also round up in-store purchases up to $0.99 and donate the change to Make-A-Wish.

Everyone has faced extraordinary challenges this year due to the pandemic, especially children with critical illnesses and their families. Aside from the added health concerns, these children are some of the most vulnerable members of our communities and have had to isolate even more and avoid doing some of the things they love most. So, Make-A-Wish is perhaps more important than ever now because it can bring them hope and joy no matter the circumstances.

Elizabeth approving dress details

Elizabeth's dress is available for purchase online at Macys.com and in 12 physical Macy's stores and 20 percent of all sales through December 31 will go back to Make-A-Wish to help grant wishes like Elizabeth's. Elizabeth was also surprised with a billboard marking the occasion, and enjoyed a special event at Macy's Barton Creek Square store in Austin, Texas where her dress was showcased. But there's one gift that outlasts all the others: Elizabeth's reinvigorated confidence. Her mom says that even if Elizabeth doesn't become a dress designer, that confidence that she gained from her wish will last forever.

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.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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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."