The first concert of Taylor Swift's new tour was an epic night for these kids.

Are you a Taylor Swift devotee?

If so, you already know that the artist whose most earnest pop songs you belt out at karaoke is about to embark on a huge tour in Spring 2018. And if not — you probably still know.

Thanks to a load of publicity about the tour's kickoff, all of us probably know at least something about Swift's upcoming worldwide extravaganza — such as that she's using something called a "rocket sled" to torpedo herself from one side of backstage to another. Sounds terrifying. But hey, she's the professional.


Swift's first show of the tour was done for a select group of VIPs — a very special group of superfans.

On May 5, Swift played a private show in Arizona.  The attendees, all of whom had been sworn to secrecy, were 2,000 local foster kids and their families. And if you're thinking, "oh my god," let me assure you that's what was running through the invitees' minds as they opened the email from Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents (AZAFAP).

"We first thought this was a spam [email] or something," Janine Waldera tells me. She took her grandchildren, whom she's adopted, to the show. When she accepted the invite, she says, she also agreed to abide by strict rules of confidentiality. No phones, no cameras, and no telling anyone about the specifics of the show. (So if you came to this post looking for a setlist, friend, stay for the feels instead.)

Photo by Janine Waldera, with permission.

The show itself? Like nothing anyone expected. AZ Central reports that concert-goers were greeted with tables of snacks and drinks at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Then Swift came out, said hello, and asked if anyone would mind if she did her entire two-hour show. Unsurprisingly, everyone held their peace.

"It was overwhelming to see so many people that came," Waldera told AZ Central. "[Swift] told all of us that we had more energy than if the stadium was filled and a sold-out concert. Kids were so excited, screaming, dancing, and they let everybody walk around."

But no one had seen anything yet: Swift, who's been a lighting rod in popular culture  ("do we love her or do we hate her?" seems to be the concept behind her latest album) had a few more surprises. After giving the kids and their families even more sugar — she served pizza and brownies and, oh my god, this show sounds amazing because do you know how much that stuff costs at the stadium? — she took the time to meet with everyone. In the parking lot, AZ Central reports, Swift's parents handed out souvenirs.

The concert was may more than just entertainment.

Sure, the kids had a great time with Swift, but they also got to meet other kids who have had similar experiences. And the invitation, AZAFAP president Kris Jacober told reporters, was "like a miracle." One that's especially poignant in May — National Foster Care Month.  

"The association's been around for 13 years," she said, "and nobody has ever made us an offer like this. I know this doesn’t happen every day. We just are deeply appreciative of her kindness toward our families."

Swift was sending an important message with her show: Foster families deserve to be seen and recognized.  

Waldera tells me that one of the best parts of the evening was families making connections with each other. "It was a great way of networking with other families," she says. As for the kids? "It's a memory my children will always cherish."

"There was no way we could have afforded to take our children to this amazing concert," she enthuses. "Taylor was so generous with her time, and she made all the kids there feel like they were rock stars!"

Photo courtesy of Janine Waldera.

Call it what you want (isn't that a Taylor Swift song?), but the night was truly magical. And even if you aren't a fan of her music, we can all be fans of the fact that Taylor Swift is an artist who gives back to the community.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.