As a kid, she was always in hospitals. Now she's helping other sick kids feel cozy.
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State Farm

Pajamas can help us feel warm, comfortable, and safe, no matter how we're feeling physically. It would make sense for kids to get them when they're in the hospital — but most don't.

Jaz Gray certainly didn't, even though she was a hospital regular as a kid, having been born with one of the rarest vascular anomalies in the world.

It's called an arteriovenous malformation, which is basically a tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins. While they most often form in the brain or spine, Gray's is on her jaw.


Jaz Gray. All photos via State Farm.

The anomaly caused her to have over 40 surgeries across 20 years, many of which occurred when she was a child. As a result, there was a period of time when she was spending almost every holiday in the hospital, which, needless to say, wasn't fun.

But one of the things she particularly disliked were the basic hospital gowns she had to wear.

"I remember being a kid in the hospital having to put on those black and white hospital gowns, and I was so ashamed because my behind was sticking out the back," Gray says.

As a high school senior, Gray decided to start an organization dedicated to giving kids in hospitals pajamas.

She named it Jaz's Jammies.

Gray organizing pajamas.

Gray wanted to help give back a sense of comfort and normalcy to kids who no doubt are going through something difficult.

It may sound like a small thing, but getting to wear regular pajamas while in a strange, sometimes scary place like a hospital can make all the difference.

"Pajamas are something that probably many of us take for granted," Gray says.

Not only do they help kids feel cozy, but since they come in so many colors and patterns, they're a form of expression. When kids are stuck in the hospital, getting to choose a unique set of pajamas helps remind them that they're special.

A child in a hospital getting pajamas.

Since 2006, Jaz's Jammies has collected nearly 6,000 pairs of pajamas for kids.

She gets the pajamas from school drives, generous communities, and other philanthropic organizations. Volunteers then bring those donations to hospitals like Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

They even host what they call "pajama parties" so kids can pick out their own pajamas just as if they were shopping in a store.

And the experience is as much of a gift for the parents as it is for the kids. Seeing their kids get excited over picking new pajamas after dealing with perhaps many tense moments brings about a next level kind of joy.

"To have parents walk up to us and say 'Thank you. You don’t know how much this means' — it’s an amazing experience," says Erika Maclin, a Jaz's Jammies volunteer.

The volunteers, young and old, receive the greatest gift of all — the knowledge that they're making a kid's life better.

For Gray, seeing how proud people get after they've helped put on a Jaz's Jammies drive lets her know she's doing something right.

Gray giving a presentation on Jaz's Jammies at a school.

"That’s where you can really see the power," Gray says.

Jaz's Jammies is truly a community effort and would not have achieved as much as it has in the last decade if it weren't for all the people who believe in its mission.

And it wouldn't be a reality at all if Gray hadn't gone through what she did as a child. So, in a way, she's grateful for her hardship.

Gray put it succinctly: "There’s a rainbow in every storm."

Watch the story of Jaz's Jammies here:

Help for the Holiday's: Jaz's Jammies

After spending much of her life in a hospital, she's bringing cozy pajamas to children who are struggling the way she did.

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, December 11, 2017
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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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Public Domain

A very simple thing happened earlier this week. Dr. Seuss Enterprises—the company that runs the Dr. Seuss estate and holds the legal rights to his works—announced it will no longer publish six Dr. Seuss children's books because they contain depictions of people that are "hurtful and wrong" (their words). The titles that will no longer be published are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer.

This simple action prompted a great deal of debate, along with a great deal of disinformation, as people reacted to the story. (Or in many cases, just the headline. It's a thing.)

My article about the announcement (which contains examples of the problematic content that prompted the announcement) led to nearly 3,000 comments on Upworthy's Facebook page. Since many similar comments were made repeatedly, I wanted to address the most common sentiments and questions:

How do we learn from history if we keep erasing it?

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