Please stop what you're doing and say hi to Charleston Chew.

He's an adorable old pug from Pennsylvania who's recently won over the internet's heart.

And he'll likely win over yours, too.

All photos courtesy of Sharla Wilson, used with permission.


(According to his human, Charleston goes by about a dozen other names — including Muffin Toes, Puffins, Chi Chi, and Butters. But for the sake of simplicity, let's stick with Charleston.)

Charleston and his owner, Sharla Wilson, recently moved into a new home in Pittsburgh.

But Charleston's been having some real issues with the change.

You see, the new apartment — with its foreign floor plan and unusual surroundings — has been stressful for 11-year-old creature of habit Charleston.

So he's been a bit louder than usual throughout the adjustment period.

Concerned her new neighbors may be irked by Charleston's stress-induced howls, Wilson taped a message to her front door.

"Hello, Neighbors!" the note began. "My name is Charleston Chew and I'm very sorry for my howling."

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The message continued:

"I'm an old man now, with cataracts, and sometimes I get real scared because I can't see where I am and can't find my mom. As I get used to my new place, I will start to settle down.

Thanks for being patient with me. I don't mean to be such a pain.

Charleston Chew Pug
Apt 502"

"It's a quiet building and I just didn't want anyone losing sleep or getting upset over his challenges to adjusting," Wilson explains in an email to Upworthy. "This isn't something he just does when I'm away at work. If I'm in another room or in the shower, he'll howl for me if he wakes up and I'm not by his side."

She's not kidding. Here's a cute video of Charleston howling ... at a dandelion.

One of Charleston's new neighbors, Megan Jones, spotted the note on Wilson's door and shared a pic of it on Twitter. "You howl all you want Charleston, honey," she wrote.

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Her tweet totally took off.

Since Jones shared it on April 30, nearly half a million people have liked the image, and over 120,000 have retweeted it (at the time of this writing).

Charleston truly has gone ridiculously viral.

The replies to Jones' tweet were delightful as well. Many people were losing it over how adorable Charleston is, and many fellow pet owners shared pics of their own four-legged family members.

"What an awesome mom!" one user chimed in. "Letting the new neighbors know what's going on in such an adorable way!"

Charleston's viral fame even made its way back to Wilson and Jones' landlord!

The story is super sweet all on its own — but it gets even sweeter when you learn how much Charleston has meant to Wilson over the years.

Charleston was given to Wilson when he was just 5 weeks old. He weighed less than 3 pounds and wobbled more than he actually walked.

"I'm a big proponent of adoption and wasn't in the market for a dog," Wilson said. "That being said, as soon as I saw his tiny little face, he had my heart."

The little pup has helped Wilson through more than he'll ever know.

"Charleston has been my constant through some of the biggest struggles and obstacles I've faced," Wilson says. "He's been a steadfast source of laughter and joy. He has been a driving force of renewal and hope during my darkest days. He is the embodiment of the purest form of unconditional love this world has to offer."

He's the biggest sweetheart, Wilson emphasizes, always making friends with cats, children, and other dogs, too: "He's just the nicest dude."

Maybe he's not the fiercest guard dog — "My apartment was once broken into and I guarantee you [Charleston] offered the intruder a beer and helped him carry the stolen goods to the car," Wilson jokes — but he's a kind-hearted keeper nonetheless.

Charleston's health has been declining, though.

And as many pet owners know all too well, it's a tough experience for Wilson.

Among other ailments, Charleston has diabetes, which keeps him on a very strict diet. Wilson said she can spend over $300 a month on items like insulin, prescription food, lotions, and pee pads: "I stretch myself to try and give him the best life after all that he's given me."

"It's difficult not to feel sorrow from time to time at the idea of losing my sweet boy," she says.

Fortunately, the love-struck internet wanted to help Charleston out.

And a few big pet brands caught wind.

Wilson confirms that PetSmart is letting Charleston and Wilson go on a shopping spree, free of charge. A company called WyzeCam is providing camera so that Wilson can keep tabs on Charleston when she's away from the apartment. And 1-800-PetMeds is sending a goodie basket filled with calming tabs, an activity monitor, and more.

Wilson has had "tears in [her] eyes" from all the love sent Charleston's way. She's "at a loss, shocked by it," she says. "To be able to give him a bit more and get some things that were beyond my means is just incredible."

But beyond any tangible items, Wilson is most touched by the fact that strangers near and far have been able to get to know the Charleston she's adored from the start.

"This outpouring of love has been the most comforting experience," she says. "I see Charleston as this unique and wonderful little guy, and to feel so many people experiencing that with me has been inconceivably fulfilling. His big heart has touched people and it's beautiful to feel that I'm not alone in my sentiment."

"He and I are a tag team of weirdos," Wilson concludes. "And I wouldn't have it any other way."

To keep tabs on Charleston, follow him and Wilson on Twitter.

This article was originally publisted on May 5, 2018.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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