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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.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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