Jenna Fischer visited a college. It didn't go as planned. So now, she wants change.

It started with a racist threat, written on a stall in a DePauw University men's bathroom on April 11, according to Indy Star.

Then the N-word, spelled out using rocks, was spotted in a park, the school confirmed in a statement. Another offensive message — this time, one spouting homophobia and anti-Semitism — was found in a different bathroom. And a student was seen sporting blackface and a derogatory sign at a local bar.

Four separate hate-fueled incidents — all in one week, at just one university.



Hate at DePauw University hit a fever pitch in mid-April. And actress Jenna Fischer, of all people, was there to witness the pain, frustrations, and calls for action boil over in real time.

The actress, known for her role as Pam on "The Office," was on campus in Indiana on April 17 to meet theater students, participate in a Q&A, and sign copies of her book, "The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide."


But the event took an abrupt turn when demonstrators from the school's Association of African-American Students interrupted the gathering chanting and carrying a large banner that read, "We are not safe," the Associated Press reported.

This kind of turmoil isn't confined to the small, private school in Greencastle, Indiana.

College campuses have always facilitated social debate and, as a result, often can attract hate-filled bigotry. It was at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, after all, where white supremacists chose to gather in protest of the removal of a confederate statue in August 2017.

But evidence suggests hate crimes increased significantly at many colleges and universities in the months following the election that gave us Donald Trump.

"As spaces often populated by the religious and ethnic minority groups Trump pilloried during his bruising campaign, college campuses were natural incubators for conflict," Dan Bauman wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education in a report published in February. Many of the incidents, he wrote, involved references to the president.

While no direct ties have reportedly been made connecting Trump to the hate on display in Greencastle, DePauw's recent bigotry problems aren't all that unique.

But the hateful acts have been eye-opening to Fischer, nonetheless.

In a tweet published the day after the DePauw demonstrations, Fischer opened up about the unsettling events.

"Needless to say, I was shocked and upset to hear what was happening on their campus," Fischer wrote.

She continued (emphasis added):

"The student protesters spoke about their experiences and about the hate they have been encountering. I could feel the pain, sadness, and fear coming from these students. No student should feel at risk, or have to suffer the kind of bigotry and hate these students have encountered. These students need to be heard and they need change."

In her statement, Fischer announced she'd be donating the money she received from the university for her appearance to three organizations helping combat racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia and transphobia among young LGBTQ people: the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and The Trevor Project.

The gesture was well-received.

"What an amazing letter, [Jenna Fischer]. Thank you," one Twitter user wrote. "I'm a DPU grad and watched the live stream last night. You were wonderful. Thank you again for the words of encouragement that was so well said."

Mark McCoy — DePauw's president, who was at the event — thanked the actress for speaking out for the demonstrators. Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League also sent his appreciation for Fischer's "generosity and ... commitment to combating hate and bigotry." The Trevor Project thanked Fischer "for using this event to inspire hope and support our lifesaving work."

"My hope is for all people to be respected, accepted, and loved for their individuality and uniqueness," Fischer wrote. "And, above all, to be safe."

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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.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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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.