Yesterday, thousands of children and teens in Los Angeles woke up to the news that school was closed.

But the news didn't carry with it the normal glee of an unexpected snow day or an early closing before a holiday.



Los Angeles city school buses. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest public school system in the country, was shut down because of a bomb threat.

Buses that had already started on their routes returned to parking lots, sitting empty for the day. Some students who hadn't heard the news in time arrived on foot or by car with friends only to discover abandoned campuses and their classmates being sent back home. Over 900 public schools and 187 public charter schools in the system halted operations, leaving 640,000 students with no place to go.

What kind of warning caused this type of mass response?

Details are still unclear, but the threat arrived by email to several school board members and suggested that many schools within the district were being targeted. It mentioned backpacks and packages being left on campus. City officials in L.A., not wanting to take any chances in the aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting, reacted swiftly and cautiously. More than 2,700 officers were dispatched for walk-throughs at more than 1,500 closed school sites in searches for explosives or weapons.

The same threat was also issued to the New York City public school system, but officials there didn't think it was credible enough to close schools.

Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.

Around 12:30 p.m., the threat was determined to be "a hoax or something designed to disrupt school districts in large cities," according to the House Intelligence Committee. But by then, L.A., having already made a difficult choice, watched chaos ensue.

Many parents had been forced to find alternative child care or miss work (likely an unthinkable option for many low-wage workers). Some parents were left looking for their children they had sent off to school that morning. Traffic was gridlocked.

And if that weren't enough, students who depend on school meal programs were facing a day without breakfast or lunch.

That is, until concerned L.A. residents went into action.

By mid-morning, hundreds of people were using the hashtag #LALunch to ask restaurants to offer free meals to the more than three-quarters of the district's students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

And some restaurants happily obliged:

This swift and thoughtful effort reminded me of a comforting principle that we've seen play out time and time again:

Most people hope that one day love will conquer the fear caused by violence and prevent these acts from occurring in the first place.

But love is also there in the meantime. It's what we can turn to —and practice — when the fear disrupts us.

When threats and violence make us uncomfortable and shake up our day, love isn't just the power that we hope will stop bad things from happening.

It's how we step up at the very moments that we feel most powerless.

I don't know about you, it's hard to process all the terrorism and violence, guns and bomb threats. And I don't always know how to deal with a world that can look eerily similar to 1950s America with its hate speech and bomb drills. We don't always know what to do about the big things.

But on days when thousands of parents are terrified and children are forced out of a place that should be a safe haven, we can, at the very least, provide lunch, offer to watch our neighbor's daughter, keep our libraries open just a little longer, and be flexible and understanding with our employees and colleagues who are parents.

It's the small things that remind us of who we are — and who we must be.

It's what people did in Baltimore when local libraries at the epicenter of protests and riots refused to close, instead providing a safe harbor and support for those who needed it.

It's what Parisians did using the hashtag #PorteOuverte to open their homes to those seeking refuge and safety in the aftermath of last month's shootings.

Edward R. Roybal Learning Center during the shutdown. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.)

It's a reminder that we can, even if just for a moment, pour our energy into what is simple and comforting and good.

And that is lending a helping hand and trying our best to love the fear right out of the children who will go to school tomorrow — and the day after — with a heightened awareness of just how unsafe the world can be.

If bomb threats and school closings are a sign of these scary times times, let's not forget that these small acts of kindness and compassion are, too.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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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.

Upworthy is sharing this letter from Myra Sack on the anniversary of the passing of her daughter Havi Lev Goldstein. Loss affects everyone differently and nothing can prepare us for the loss of a young child. But as this letter beautifully demonstrates, grief is not something to be ignored or denied. We hope the honest words and feelings shared below can help you or someone you know who is processing grief of their own. The original letter begins below:


Dear Beauty,

Time is crawling to January 20th, the one-year anniversary of the day you took your final breath on my chest in our bed. We had a dance party the night before. Your posse came over. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, closest friends, and your loving nanny Tia. We sat in the warm kitchen with music on and passed you from one set of arms to another. Everyone wanted one last dance with you. We didn’t mess around with only slow songs. You danced to Havana and Danza Kuduro, too. Somehow, you mustered the energy to sway and rock with each of us, despite not having had anything to eat or drink for six days. That night, January 19th, we laughed and cried and sang and danced. And we held each other. We let our snot and our tears rest on each other’s shoulders; we didn’t wipe any of them away. We ate ice cream after dinner, as we do every night. And on this night, we rubbed a little bit of fresh mint chocolate chip against your lips. Maybe you’d taste the sweetness.

Reggaeton and country music. Blueberry pancakes and ice cream. Deep, long sobs and outbursts of real, raw laughter. Conversations about what our relationships mean to each other and why we are on this earth.


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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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.

Carter Trozzolo is exhausted—aren't we all?

There was a massive snowstorm in Canada on Monday that blanketed southern Ontario. In a report on the storm’s aftermath, CTV News interviewed young Carter Trozzolo to see how it was affecting everyday Canadians. Trozzolo had the day off from school so he was put to work shoveling snow in his neighborhood.

When asked how his monumental task was going he said, "Tiring," with a large sigh. "I really wish I was in school right now," he continued. He added that he wasn’t just shoveling snow for himself but "neighbors, friends, probably people I even don't know," he said in an exasperated tone. “I am tired,” he reiterated.

The clip was of a young man shoveling snow, but his overwhelming sense of exasperation feels like it was about a lot more than just the task at hand. It’s how most of us feel after almost two years of dealing with the pandemic.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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