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They woke up to sirens. Thanks to foster parents, they're falling asleep to a reassuring voice.

Foster parents can be a safe harbor for children who are lost and drifting.

They woke up to sirens. Thanks to foster parents, they're falling asleep to a reassuring voice.

No one wants to break up families. But sometimes it's what has to happen.

Although most social services programs work hard to keep families together, sometimes they have to remove kids from dangerous homes. Many children enter foster care confused, angry, and with literally nothing to their name.


There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States.

That's 400,000 disrupted lives. 400,000 questions about when or if they'll go home. 400,000 different stories.

Some of those kids will stay with their foster families for only a few days. Others may never go home. Around a quarter of them are eligible for adoption, but only about 10% will be adopted.

While the kids are in safe homes, their parents receive support services to try to make their home safer for the children, including drug rehab and parenting classes. Around half of the kids who leave foster care return to their parents.

All images via Foster Care Support Foundation.

The good news is, there are lots of great families welcoming these kids.

About 23% of them are relatives or close friends of the children — these "relative placements" help kids maintain ties to their birth families. Of the kids who end up being adopted out of foster care, over half were adopted by their foster parents.

The great news is, even if you don't have the resources to be a foster parent, you can totally help foster kids.

  • Mentor foster kids and teens. Young adults aging out of foster care are more successful when they have an adult they can trust to guide them through their first steps out on their own.
  • Serve as a special advocate to keep foster kids from getting lost in the shuffle of the legal system. You don't have to be a lawyer or a social worker. Anyone with good common sense and a desire to help kids can volunteer and receive training.
  • Volunteer for respite care, which is like being a foster parent but just for a couple of days at a time. Kids would come to you when their birth, adoptive, or foster families need a break. Think of it as a chance to be the fun aunt or uncle for a kid who could really use one.
  • Support political initiatives that keep families together and reduce stress on parents, like increasing the minimum wage and providing health care services for children.
  • Donate items to or fundraise for social work organizations. They need clean clothes in sizes from preemie to adult, safe infant equipment, and toys in good condition. They also need luggage because these children move around a lot; not having to use garbage bags gives them a little dignity.

The actors in the video below show the story of two children who have to leave their home in the middle of the night with nothing but their pajamas.

The next day, their foster parents take them to a distribution center run by Georgia-based Foster Care Support Foundation, where they can choose what they need from an array of donated toys and clothes. Cue all the good feelings. It's an example of how a community can come together to help children when their lives are turned upside down.


They miss their home and are uncertain about their future, but the support of their community stabilizes them.

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Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

In sharp contrast to the 121 Republican House members who voted against the certification of Biden's electoral votes—a constitutional procedure merely check-marking the state certifications that had already taken place—this letter expresses a desire to "rise above the partisan fray" and work together with Biden as he takes over the presidency.

The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

After two impeachments, lengthy inter-branch investigations, and, most recently, the horrific attack on our nation's capital, it is clear that the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.

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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.