The heartbreaking reason this 98-year-old spends weekends shredding mail.

Sometimes you come across someone's story and it touches you in a way you'll never forget.

Mary's story, captured in a short film called "Junk Mail," is one of those stories.


Photo courtesy of Charles Frank. Used with permission.

Mary is 98 years old. She has no children. And her husband died a few years ago.

She and her husband lived in the same house together — the one she still lives in today — for about four decades.

"Where could I go?" she responds rhetorically when asked if she enjoys living there. “I can't see. I can't hear. I can't live with my nieces. They all have their own family."

Photo via "Junk Mail"/Vimeo.

Many of us can't wait for the weekend. But for Mary, Saturday and Sunday mean 48 hours of loneliness.

On weekends, she ends up resorting to a tedious, inconsequential task, just to help pass the time.

"You know what I do? Don't laugh," she explains. "I get junk mail. I strip it. And after I strip it, I cut it up in small [pieces], put it in a bag, put it out for garbage. I have to do something. Otherwise, I'll go nuts."

Photo via "Junk Mail"/Vimeo.

That heartbreaking quote inspired the name for "Junk Mail."

Created by production company Voyager, "Junk Mail" follows Mary on her day-to-day routine in Easton, Pennsylvania, capturing the difficulty of growing old and lonely.

It's a difficulty plenty of people know all too well.

A study by the University of California, San Francisco conducted between 2002 and 2008 found that 43% of people over 60 years old reported feeling lonely. What's more, those who experienced loneliness also experienced more significant declines in health over the years, as The New York Times noted.

So while Mary's story might be tough to hear, her struggle to stay connected to the world is not as rare as we might think.

While Mary's weekends are spent shredding junk mail, her weekdays are filled with a bright spot: a local senior center.

During the week, Mary visits Easton Lifestyle Campus for seniors, where she dines, plays games, and chats among friends. She "can't wait 'til morning comes, so [she] can go."

Debbie Mertz, director of the center, said folks at the center may feel increasingly excluded because of their age.

"Their children are now having grandchildren," she explained in the film. "So they kind of get pushed off to the side. They're not as needed, they can't do as much, so they come here."

Photo via "Junk Mail"/Vimeo.

But we shouldn't feel sorry for Mary. While her story tugs at the heartstrings, she's certainly loved by many.

"She encapsulated the spirit and energy and the ideology behind what [the senior center] represented," Charles Frank, the film's 21-year-old director, told Upworthy.

"She absolutely is one of the most beloved people there. She's the center of everyone's attention."

Frank — who said he was inspired by the senior center while visiting during filming for a different project — now considers Mary a "surrogate grandmother." And it's no wonder, either — her resilience and positive attitude are evident throughout his work.

"God is good to me," she said. "Who is 98 years old and still walking on their feet? I am. ... I am."

Photo via "Junk Mail"/Vimeo.

You can view "Junk Mail" below. It's certainly worth the watch.

But be warned: You should have tissues on hand.

And to anyone who may be inspired to reach out to Mary, Frank asked that viewers send Voyager a direct message through their Facebook page. He will follow up with directions on how you can send Mary a hello.

Voyager is planning on giving Mary the messages of support during a screening of the film sometime during November.

Check out "Junk Mail" below:

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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.

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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.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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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.