Refugees arrive without backpacks, so these women found a way to make them — from boats.

The island of Lesbos is a popular landing place for refugees fleeing countries in the Middle East, looking for safety. After arriving, most continue a long trek to other European countries.

Nobody can take away the difficulty and pain — both emotional and physical — that refugees endure, but there sure are a lot of people who are working hard to help.

Take Floor Nagler, a 24-year-old Amsterdam resident who is studying textiles. Radio Free Europe shared an incredible story (and photos) about an idea that struck her when she was in Lesbos in January, helping newly arrived refugees.


And not only did Nagler have an idea, but she saw it through.

Floor Nagler, left. All photos belong to Radio Free Europe and are shared here with permission. You can also check out more incredible photo stories on their Instagram page. Photo by Amos Chapple (RFE/RL).

She could see that the refugees needed backpacks because many of them had lost their bags during their travels.

She also observed that once they arrived in Lesbos on rubber boats, they abandoned the boats they traveled on because they no longer needed them.

They also abandoned their lifejackets.

So Nagler gathered up over 40 pounds of boat materials and returned to Amsterdam,

Then she asked her friend, 27-year-old artist Didi Aaslund, to help her brainstorm a way to turn all that material into useable backpacks.

The pair worked together and designed a simple, effective backpack made from "one folded piece of boat material, held together with rivets and clipped shut with buckles from life vests," Radio Free Europe explained.

The backpacks cost just $3 each and there's no need for electricity to make them.

Calling their project "It Works," Nagler and Aaslund "carried their punch pliers and riveting guns in homemade work belts made of rolled-up boat-rubber pouches strung onto black life-vest belts. They stashed scissors into black PVC lifeline holders, also salvaged from dinghies."

They returned to Lesbos and hosted a bag-making workshop that lasted one week, beginning on Feb. 29.

You can see the process in the following photos:

Pretty cool, right? If you want to watch them in action, Radio Free Europe has a great video about Nagler and Aaslun's work.

What they're doing really brings Mister Rogers' words of wisdom to life: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

There are a lot of really kind helpers in this world.

Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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