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Navajo Nation raises $3 million for COVID relief with the help of grateful Irish donors

Update: Since this article was published two days ago, the GoFundMe total has risen from $1.8 to more than $3 million.

The Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation in the southwestern U.S. have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. With a third of the population having no running water, proper virus-avoiding hygiene is nearly impossible. Access to groceries is limited, and the community has a high number of elderly and individuals with health conditions that put them at higher risk of complications from the virus.

A GoFundMe fundraiser was organized on behalf of the Rural Utah Project Education Fund to raise money for groceries, water, health supplies, and other necessary items in these Native communities. And this week, they have received a huge influx of donations from a seemingly unlikely source—Ireland.

If you're wondering what would prompt people on an island across the Atlantic to send money to a specific community in the U.S., the answer is simple. Gratitude.


In 1847, Native American tribes were struggling to get established after being forced to relocate from their homelands during the cruel and shameful Trail of Tears. The tribes had suffered greatly and had very little. But when the Choctaw nation heard about the suffering of the Irish people during the potato famine, they pulled together a donation of $170—around $5000 in today's dollars—to send to Ireland.

That collective act of sacrificial generosity was not forgotten. And now people in Ireland are repaying that gift many times over in a beautiful expression of historic human connectedness.

The GoFundMe currently sits at more than $1.8 million of a $2 million goal, thanks in no small part to a flood of donations from Ireland. And as the donations of $10, $20, $30 keep rolling in, Irish people are leaving lovely messages of gratitude, solidarity, and hope along with them:

"Ireland remembers the Navajo kindness in her hour of need."

"In remembrance of the kindness shown to my country by your fellow native Americans, the Choctaw people, during a time of dire need. Gach rath oraibh uilig." [Translation: "Best of luck to you all."]

"I donated because when you had nothing, you gave something to help Ireland."

"Yá'át'ééh from Ireland. The Native American donation all those years ago was never forgotten. There have been songs written about your generosity. I am glad to be able to return the favour in some small part. Ahóá!"

Vanessa Tulley, one of the fundraiser organizers, acknowledged the outpouring of love and money coming from Ireland in an update:

"Several of our recent donations for our GoFundMe campaign have been inspired by the Great Hunger Famine in Ireland which started in 1845.

During this difficult time, in 1847, the Choctaw Nation provided $170 of relief aid to the Irish to help them (today that is the equivalent of $5,000). Not long before the Great Hunger Famine in Ireland, 60,000 Native Americans, including the Choctaw people, had suffered through the experience of the Trail of Tears. The death of many people on the Trail of Tears sparked empathy for the Irish people in their time of need. Thus, the Choctaw extended $170 of relief aid.

173 years later to today, the favor is returned through generous donations from the Irish people to the Navajo Nation during our time of crisis. A message from Irish donor, Pat Hayes, sent from Ireland across the ocean: "From Ireland, 170 years later, the favour is returned! To our Native American brothers and sisters in your moment of hardship."

The heartache is real. We have lost so many of our sacred Navajo elders and youth to COVID-19. It is truly devastating. And a dark time in history for our Nation. In moments like these, we are so grateful for the love and support we have received from all around the world. Acts of kindness from indigenous ancestors passed being reciprocated nearly 200 years later through blood memory and interconnectedness.Thank you, IRELAND, for showing solidarity and being here for us."

Absolutely beautiful. Humanity wins the day once again.

If you'd like to donate to help the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation in their COVID-19 fight, you can find the GoFundMe here.

Correction: This post has been updated to clarify that the 1847 donation came from the Choctaw Nation during the Trail of Tears. The Navajo tribe were forcibly relocated from their lands during "The Long Walk" of 1864.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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