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A dentist improves someone's smile.

A touching story out of New Zealand shows a community's power to fight back against bullying and uplift the spirits of a young boy who badly needed medical attention.

It all began in 2011 when 12-year-old Evan Hill of Christchurch appeared on “Campbell Live,” a local current affairs show. Hill had severely buck teeth, and it made him the target of relentless bullying. Because of his appearance, the kids at his school called him “Rabbit kid.”

"They make me look funny and silly," Evan said about his teeth. "(The kids at school) call me a bunny rabbit and I'm not."

To add to the problem, Hill’s family was going through some very hard times after a devastating earthquake that struck New Zealand earlier that year. One hundred eighty-five people died in the quake and thousands of homes were destroyed.


"Since the earthquakes, I've had a death in the family, my mum passed away and my dad's house was virtually in the red zone. He found it hard to cope with that and had a stroke, and now he's in a rest home,” Evan’s father, Stephen Hill, revealed on the show.

The family didn’t have the $12,000 needed to pay for Evan’s dental work or a car to drive him to any appointments. Dental care is free in New Zealand to people under 18. However, Evan’s case was too severe to qualify.

If Evan didn’t get his teeth fixed, the bullies wouldn’t be his only problem. According to Medical News Today, buck teeth can lead to difficulty with chewing or eating, problems speaking, teeth grinding, mouth breathing, jaw problems, tooth decay and headaches due to pressures in the jaw joint.

The family’s neighbor, Phil Cooper, appealed to the people watching the show to help the family. "A lot of us judge others by their covers and who they look like on the outside, but actually he's a really nice kid,” Cooper said.

Boy bullied for buck teeth gets new smile after donations pour in | Newshub

After Evan’s story aired, “Campbell Live” was inundated with donations from its viewers and thousands of contributions added up to over $100,000 for the family. The money was used for Evan’s dental work and for the family to get a car. The family placed the rest of the money in a trust to pay for other children with similar dental problems.

Five years after appearing on television and sharing his story, orthodontist Ronald Sluiter took Evan’s braces off, revealing a beautiful smile. Over the course of the procedure, Evan’s teeth had to be moved 15 millimeters (⅔ of an inch) to be in a healthy and aesthetically appealing position.

“It’s about time,” Evan’s mother, Barbara Erickson, told Newshub. “I don’t know where we would have been today without the generosity we had. We had been looking to mortgage the house to pay for them.”

When asked how he looked after having his braces removed, Evan said: “Good.” Now, Even is looking forward to a career as a train driver.

via Tim Pham, used with permission

Tim Pham's massive tie collection.

There are few jobs that require people to be as nattily dressed as a TV news anchorperson. One has to look good for the camera while also projecting professionalism and credibility.

"It's part of our uniform," Tim Pham, the morning anchor on “Up with KREM” in Spokane, Washington, told USA Today. "It's required in TV, I guess. It's not written on paper, but when you turn on the news, the viewer expects to see someone who is dressed professionally."

Having to look good every day means you accumulate quite an impressive wardrobe. Pham had a large collection of 250 ties—many of them crammed beneath his work desk—so he decided to share them with any young, up-and-coming journalists who may need one.

He put the offer out to his followers on Twitter.


"8 yrs ago I opened up my first paycheck in TV for a whopping $600! I worked 3 jobs just to get by, let alone buy ties for work," the tweet said. "If you need a tie, DM me. All I ask is that you pay it forward one day."

Pham couldn’t believe the response.

"It did reach a lot of journalists," Pham told USA Today. "But I also heard from people in different industries, recent college grads, a lot of seniors in college. Nonprofits even reached out to me. There was a jail that reached out to me asking about filling their closet for people leaving the prison system to then go find a job for an interview.”

Overwhelmed by the number of requests, Pham had to figure out the logistics of sending out all of the ties and some businesses reached out to help. A laundry company said it would help wash the ties. A shipping company said it would send the ties free of charge and others reached out to donate their used ties to the cause.

Pham now calls his mini charitable organization “Phamily Ties.”

Pham told Upworthy that Phamily Ties has sent out around 100 ties and handed out more than a dozen locally in Spokane since his tweet. He hopes his tie giveaway encourages young journalists to “keep working hard” and to pursue their dreams.

“They shouldn’t be counted out from a job they are qualified for because they don’t have the means to buy a tie,” he told Upworthy. “I hope this initiative encourages others to pay it forward and help the next generation coming behind us. So many people invested in me, now it’s time to do it for someone else.”

He also believes that having the right tie can help young professionals get the confidence they need to succeed.

“A tie by itself is nothing impressive, it’s a piece of fabric stitched up,” he told Upworthy. “However, when worn, it adds more than style, it boosts confidence and shows others they are a professional. Everyone should be able to walk in this confidence and professionalism, yet the cost of ties is out of budget and not a priority for journalists who make pennies in their first job.”

As for now, Pham isn’t accepting donations but is getting his partners together for another tie drive in 2023.

“I am in the early stages of developing another giveaway next year with the help of sponsors and my company to help organize a campaign/event,” he told Upworthy.

People often deride Twitter as a place that fosters negativity and creates division in America. However, Pham’s experience is wonderful proof that there are still a lot of great people out there and that social media can bring them together to help those making their way in the world.

Way to pay it forward, Tim!

Photo by Artem Zhukov on Unsplash; screenshot via @renebelew/Instagram

People are using person-to-person purchases to get money to Ukrainians in the war.

As we watch the war in Ukraine from half a world away, many Americans wonder what they can do to help the Ukrainian people.

There are standard NGOs and nonprofits, such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee, that are organizing aid to refugees inside and outside the country, of course. But not everyone feels good about putting their donation money into a big, pooled pot. Some people want to know exactly where their money is going and who it is helping.

And some people are figuring out creative ways to do that via person-to-person "gig economy" platforms like Etsy and Airbnb.


Here's how they're doing it:

For one, people are booking Airbnb stays in Ukraine for the coming days, which they obviously won't be using, and telling the hosts to keep the money. When you book an Airbnb you can read the profiles and reviews of the hosts to get a sense of who they are, if they have children, etc. Some people rent out private rooms in their own homes, while others own property that they rent out, but it's easy to see who you are renting from. When you book, you are also directly connected to the host so you can message each other.

The responses from people who have done this are both heartbreaking and beautiful.

@renebelew/Instagram

The Quentin Quarantino Instagram account, which has been used for huge crowdfunding efforts, shared the idea and the responses some followers have gotten from Ukrainians when they've done this. It also shared some tips, such as booking dates that are coming up soon since payments only go through to the host once the booking date arrives.

You can click the right arrow to scroll through all of the the screenshots, but here are a few of them:

Screenshot via quentin.quarantino/Instagram

Worth noting that Airbnb has waived the fees for hosts in Ukraine and its nonprofit arm, Airbnb.org, is coordinating stays for 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

In addition to Airbnb, people are also using Etsy to give to Ukrainian people directly by buying from Ukrainian sellers. Some people have pointed out that sellers who sell digital files—educational or decorative printables, sewing or knitting patterns, and so on—can benefit from getting sales without having any confusion over whether someone wants something shipped.

Here's how you do it:

1. Go to Esty.com and type “digital files” in the search box

2. Click "All Filters" and scroll down to "Country"

3. Under "Custom," type "Ukraine"

You can use the country filter for any item sold on Etsy, but you do have to put something into the search bar before the filter option shows up. If you place an order for a physical item, just let the seller know upfront that you aren't expecting them to ship anything, you just want to send them some financial and moral support.

This is a good opportunity to personalize your giving in more ways than just a personal message. If you have a crocheting hobby, for instance, you could search "crochet" and then filter for Ukraine to support a fellow crocheter. It might sound silly, but those simple human connections are meaningful, especially when people are facing down inhumanity.

The situation in Ukraine is dire, and while it's important to support large-scale aid programs that have experience with getting people the assistance they need in a crisis, there's more than one way to help. Sometimes putting cash directly into the pockets of people who have just lost their livelihoods to war, who might need funds to get out of the country or to get supplies that help them stay safe can make a significant difference.

The beauty of sites like Airbnb and Etsy is that they allow us to connect with and help people on the ground directly, in a way that reminds all of us of the humanity at the heart of it all.


LeBron James Family Foundation’s new Old El Paso Taco Shop opens to celebrate Taco 2.22.22uesday
Celebrate The Taco Shop by Old El Paso on 2.22.22uesday
True

The deuces are wild on Tuesday, February 22, 2022. The 22nd day of the second month of the year 2022 is a Tuesday, the second day of the week. Americans everywhere are celebrating the historic day by enjoying Tuesday’s official meal, the taco.

The next time this incredible occurrence will happen is in the year 4022.

The LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF) is having a big Taco 2.22.22uesday celebration by hosting the foundation’s I PROMISE families in Akron Ohio, at the first-ever restaurant featuring meals from Old El Paso, aptly named “The Taco Shop by Old El Paso.” The fast-casual dining establishment is located in LJFF’s new multi-use facility, House Three Thirty, which provides resources designed to change the trajectory for I PROMISE families and serve the entire Akron, Ohio community.

It may be the Ultimate Taco Tuesday, but House Three Thirty’s Taco Shop by Old El Paso is about so much more than just tacos.

In addition to delicious food, the fast-casual restaurant, sponsored by Old El Paso, offers much-needed space for family-led programming and hands-on job training, including food preparation, customer service, teamwork, time management, culinary best practices, and experience in a kitchen with state-of-the-art technology.

As part of House Three Thirty’s unique community model, The Taco Shop by Old El Paso will employ students and adults from the I PROMISE program so they can gain valuable work experience that will help propel them to future job opportunities.

via Old El Paso

“We are thrilled to continue the collaboration with LJFF to create a safe space for families in Akron to spend time with each other because we know that special moments can be had while enjoying good food,” Maria Jaramillo, General Mills Business Unit Director for Mexican & Baking, said in a statement.

Everyone loves Old El Paso’s food, but now the people of Akron and beyond can sit down and enjoy its delicious Tex-Mex flavors prepared in a fast-casual setting designed to bring families together for some real quality time.

The Taco Shop will feature a wide variety of tacos—including the LJFF’s favorite, the Chili Lime Grilled Skirt Steak Taco— as well as burritos, quesadillas, and even desserts, like flan, churros, and sopapillas, all created with Old El Paso ingredients inspired by the taco dishes created in the James household.

The Taco Shop by Old El Paso’s Taco 2.22.22uesday celebrations aren’t limited to the I PROMISE families, as you can enjoy the delicious flavors of Old El Paso at home. To commemorate the creation of its first Taco Shop, on Taco 2.22.22uesday Old El Paso is giving fans nationwide a chance to host a James family-inspired taco night, featuring taco party favors, and LJFF jersey apron, portable speaker, Old El Paso products, and more.

To enter to win a taco kit, go to oldelpaso.com/taco-22222uesday-sweepstakes . Submissions must be made by Monday, February 28, 2022.

via Old El Paso

Old El Paso and LJFF have a long-standing partnership committed to bringing families together for taco night. Last year, the two worked together to donate Taco Tuesday meal kits to families from the I PROMISE school and others at the start of the pandemic. Old El Paso then became the sponsor of I PROMISE Village Taco meals, donating meals for weekly community dinners, taco Tuesday events, and I PROMISE School monthly Family Feasts. The Village provides rent-free housing to families experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, or other unforeseen circumstances.