It's finally back-to-school season. And if all goes well, you'll show up on that first day looking — and feeling — like a million bucks, right?

In the first school day of your dreams, the world is your three-subject spiral notebook. And you, in your sleek new threads, are the artist with a zip-pouch full of freshly sharpened colored pencils, drawing the many-hued future of your dreams across the blank lined pages.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.


But what if looking great isn't an option?

Imagine what it might be like to wear the same clothes from last year on your first day. Not so shiny and swaggy anymore, huh?

Now imagine it's not just the first day of school. That this goes beyond that first sharp entrance. And that on any day of the year, you might roll into class unlaundered, un-showered, and wearing someone else's ill-fitting hand-me-downs.

Unfortunately, that's the reality a lot of kids face.

Some kids are homeless, some are struggling, and some are straddling the choice between spending that last dollar on food, electricity, or a trip to the laundromat.

Either way, poverty often plays a role in chronic absenteeism — students missing 10% or more of the school year — just because they're too embarrassed or afraid to show up feeling filthy.

"People don’t talk about not having clean clothes because it makes you want to cry or go home or run away or something," said Logan, an eighth-grader. "It doesn’t feel good.”

Photo by Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images.

In the past, schools have used things like free meals and transportation as incentives for kids to come to school. But what if all it takes now is a washing machine?

In 2015, Whirlpool launched an initiative called Care Counts, which provided washing machines to 17 different schools with at-risk and low-income students.

The idea was simple: Maybe if students in need could wash their clothes for free, they'd have a better reason to come to school and stay there.

Some schools reported a noticeable difference in attendance within one month.

Over the course of the program's first pilot year, participating students received an average of 50 loads of laundry each, and 93% of them increased their attendance rates — with those at the greatest risk of dropping out averaging an additional 2 weeks of classroom attendance compared with previous years.

"This program has made a difference," said principal Martha Lacy of David Weir Preparatory Academy, a K-8 public school east of San Francisco, in an interview with Today. "And if we can make a positive difference with even one student, it’s worth it."

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

We've all heard the saying that "clothes make the man." Maybe clothes are all it takes to make the student, too.

With over a million students in the United States dropping out of school each year, there's still a lot of work to do. But Whirlpool plans on more than doubling their Care Counts program for the 2016-2017 school year — and hopefully, it keeps growing from there.

If a clean shirt can help to break the cycle of poverty and struggle, a little laundry might be worth it.

Check out the video below to hear from real-life students about the effect that the program has had on their lives so far:

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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