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Independence Day is an important day in the United States.

In 1776, the Continental Congress declared the 13 American colonies were no longer a part of the British Empire and would be recognized as a new nation — thus asserting independence from British rule. This action led to the creation of the U.S. Constitution over a decade later.

But for years, the rights our independent nation promised only applied to certain people.

Black Americans, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and many other communities didn't get to experience the same freedoms. Instead, to varying degrees, they experienced persecution.


With the passage of several Constitutional amendments — such as those that granted black Americans citizenship, women the right to vote, etc. — the U.S. made steps toward equality for all. But, progress is an ongoing journey. While our nation has improved in many ways, black and Latino citizens still experience disproportionate rates of poverty; gun violence has decimated communities of color, schoolrooms, and churches; and LGBTQ citizens still face high rates of discrimination.

Thankfully, Americans are a fighting bunch.Citizens across the country continue to raise their voices for the rights of all Americans. Here are six organizations fighting tirelessly to ensure that rights to freedom and justice truly do apply to all citizens:

1. RAICES

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images. Illustration by Tatiana Cardenas.

RAICES is a nonprofit that provides free and low-cost legal services to immigrants. The Texas-based organization has been doing great work to support immigrants since 1986, and they're now the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas. After a Facebook fundraiser for the organization went viral and amassed more than $13 million, RAICES has been able to increase its ability to help separated families locate one another. Their dedication to reuniting families and ensuring that immigrants are afforded the human rights they deserve serves as a true example of fighting for liberty and justice for all. You can support RAICES here.

2. Color of Change

Photo courtesy of Color of Change. Illustration by Tatiana Cardenas.

Color of Change is one of the largest racial justice organizations in the U.S. Operating online, it strives to make the government and large corporations more knowledgeable about how to create safe and equitable environments for black Americans. Striving to ensure black Americans enjoy the same freedoms afforded to them by the Constitution, the organization continues to successfully fight for economic, criminal, and media justice as well as be an amplified power and voice for people of color. You can support Color of Change here.

3. Easterseals

Photo courtesy of Easterseals. Illustration by Tatiana Cardenas.

Americans living with disabilities have made huge strides thanks to organizations like Easterseals leading the way. Easterseals works to provide support to citizens with various disabilities. Their work contributes to a growing mission to ensure that all Americans enjoy accessible spaces and the same freedoms and respect. You can support Easterseals here.

4. Planned Parenthood

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images. Illustration by Tatiana Cardenas.

Planned Parenthood provides comprehensive health services, such as mammograms, birth control, and reproductive and sexual health care, to millions of women around the world. Recently, the organization has been under increased attack from the far right and Christian extremists. In spite of threats from the current administration to decrease funding and growing discrimination, citizens and celebrities have banded together to keep the vital organization flourishing and able to provide health care and services. You can support Planned Parenthood here.

5. Lambda Legal

Photo courtesy of Lambda Legal. Illustration by Tatiana Cardenas.

LGBTQ Americans certainly weren't mentioned in text when the Founding Fathers were imagining what a free nation for all would look like. Lambda Legal has spent years fighting for equal rights and safer environments for LGBTQ people and queer expression. But, in light of recent rollbacks to policy in place to protect queer citizens, that work is really just beginning.

Lambda Legal communications director Jonathan Adams writes, "We have seen in their continued attacks on heath care an issue of grave concern to millions of Americans today. We the people — all of us — must stand together at this time to protect our shared rights and freedoms." Adams highlights how the current administration is "actively working to divide us by attacking children, immigrants, people of color, trans and queer individuals, Muslims, and other groups they seek to marginalize. Their continued focus on polarizing us is taking a toll on the fundamentals of this great nation, those being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Lambda Legal's efforts to fight for queer citizens is more important than ever, and it is near the truth of our county's declared ideology. You can support Lambda Legal here.

6. Everytown for Gun Safety

Photo courtesy of Everytown for Gun Safety. Illustration by Tatiana Cardenas.

Founded in 2014, Everytown for Gun Safety combined two orgs — Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America — with a shared goal for comprehensive gun safety laws. "In order for all Americans to feel and be free, it's imperative that we feel safe to be who we are in our communities — whether that's in a place of worship, at a concert or at school or a college campus," wrote Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

Watts continued, "We must do everything in our power  to make our communities safer and that means doing more to protect marginalized communities from gun violence. ... The fight for gun violence prevention is also a fight for equality." You can support Everytown for Gun Safety here.

The promise of America — that freedom and justice exists for all — is a beautiful example of how democracy should work. But that promise can become meaningless if we fail to ensure that those freedoms extend to everyone for a safe and equitable society. These six organizations — and many more — are doing the work to make sure that the sentiments our country was founded on extend to all citizens.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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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.

Education

All-female flight crews known as 'Night Witches' bombed the crap out of Nazi targets in WWII

The Germans were terrified of these pilots whose silent planes swooped in like ghosts.

The Night Witches were feared by the Germans for their stealth bombing runs.

If you like stories of amazing women, buckle up, because this one is a wild ride.

During WWII, the Soviet Air Force's 588th Night Bomber Regiment flew incredibly harrowing missions, bombing Germans with rudimentary biplanes in the dead of night. The Germans called them Nachthexen—"Night Witches"—because the only warning they had before the bombs hit was an ominous whooshing sound akin to a witch's broom.

The "whoosh" sound was due to the fact that the women would cut the planes' engines as they approached, gliding in stealthily before dropping their bombs. And the Night Witches moniker was fitting, considering the fact that the 588th was an all-female regiment.

Their missions were incredibly dangerous, especially considering how the women were equipped. Most of the recruits were in their late teens to mid-20s, and crew members had to learn how to pilot, navigate and maintain the aircraft so they could serve the regiment in any capacity. They underwent an intensive year of training to learn what usually took several years to master.

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This article originally appeared on July 2, 2019


Sadly, a lot of men go out of their way to avoid learning anything about a woman's period.

(That could be why throughout most of the United States — where the majority of lawmakers are men — feminine hygiene products are subject to sales tax.)

So we should give some love to the guys who make an effort to learn a bit about the menstrual cycle so they can help their family members when they're in desperate need of feminine hygiene products.

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