This group raised $1 million in just 9 hours to help kids at the border. Here's how.

Last week, news of children being torn from their parents' arms at the U.S.-Mexican border broke many Americans' hearts.

Author and activist Glennon Doyle was one of those Americans. She saw babies, toddlers, and preschoolers being forcibly separated from their parents — even families seeking asylum — and placed in separate detention centers, neither knowing where the other is going.

She knew she had to do something.


Doyle and the rest of her nonprofit, Together Rising, got on the phone and talked to people on the ground who work with immigration. They found out that the best way to help these families was by providing bilingual advocates and legal representation.

So Doyle's team set up an "Emergency Love Flash Mob" with a fundraising goal of $350,000 to hire a legal team to represent 60 children in an Arizona detention center.

A Love Flash Mob is Together Rising's way of getting lots of people to make online donations in a short time frame, usually one day.

They make the announcement on social media, ask folks to share a link to the donation page, and encourage as many people to give as possible. They usually request that people cap their individual donations at $25, but this time they didn't set a limit.

Image via Together Rising.

Doyle, who writes on her website Momastery, has a motto: "There is no such thing as other people's children."

This forced separation is meant to be a deterrent for people trying to cross the border, but it's mind-bogglingly cruel. "There are some non-negotiables," Doyle says, "We know immigration is complicated. We understand that. But still — not this. We have to as a country be able to say, 'No matter what, we are not going to strip babies from their mother's hands.'"

Not. This.

So, when Doyle's followers (whom she dubs "Love Warriors") got wind of the Emergency Love Flash Mob, they showed up in droves. At one point, Glennon says, they were getting 8,000 donations an hour.

Instead of $350,000, the community raised $1 million — in just nine hours.

Since then, the total has risen to $1.5 million.

EMERGENCY LOVE FLASH MOB FOR THE CHILDREN!!! https://togetherrising.org/give/“We met a terrified six-year-old blind...

Posted by Glennon Doyle on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Now those 60 kids will at least have a fighting chance of being reunited with their parents.

In addition, funds will go to The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights to send a social worker and lawyer to the border to help cut down on some of the trauma and confusion for these families. The remaining funds will go to nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. that provide free legal aid for immigrants.

But they didn't stop there. The Love Warriors also flash-mobbed Congress with phone calls.

Social action is awesome in the short term, but civic action is vital for the long game. So, the day after the Love Flash Mob, Doyle published a simple, step-by-step tutorial for contacting congressional representatives to voice disapproval for this policy.

The post includes links to finding your district, your representative, your representative's phone number, and suggested scripts.

TUESDAY, TOGETHER RISING ASKED YOU HELP US SOME PULL SOME DROWNING FAMILIES FROM THE RIVER.Together, you raised 1.45...

Posted by Glennon Doyle on Thursday, May 31, 2018

Organizing a million-dollar fundraiser in just a few days might seem like a huge effort, but for Doyle, it's just part of doing the right thing.

Love Flash Mobs usually take weeks to plan, but Doyle and her team know how to step it up for an immediate and dire need. When government fails the most vulnerable, it's up to regular people to assume the role of offering assistance.

"It's empowering," says Doyle. "I think sometimes it takes a democracy to be threatened for people to understand that this is what democracy looks like ... There are some people that are guilty, but we are all responsible."

"It's going to be harder to change the legislation than it is to raise money for these babies," she says. "But our people are on that, too."

And after all, is there anything more beautiful than people showing up to help people and making their voices heard?

Maybe seeing babies back in their mothers' arms. Yes. That.

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Today, I'm a 35-year-old man with a flame shaved into my beard. If the '80s movies I love so much are any indication, this is a sure sign I'm going through some kind of existential crisis. Next week, when the semester starts and I begin teaching again, it will not be strange if my colleagues start to worry about me just a little. A sports car or a neck-jerking pivot to physical fitness — that's an understandable response to the realization that life is fleeting. But a large meticulous flame carved out of facial hair? What does one do with that?

At this moment, though, I'm showing my face proudly to a woman wearing a swimsuit with a taco cat on it. We have only recently met, but she's telling me that she's so into my "fade" that she wants to kiss it. Then she does, blowing a raspberry into my cheek so hard that her hat falls off. Neither of us can stop laughing.

"Live Mas!" she yells with the excitement of someone who's never had trouble fully seizing the moment.

"Live Mas!" I shout back without any irony. There is no irony here in Palm Springs, where, for four days only, hundreds of people celebrate their love for Taco Bell.

Here, there's only swimming and hot sauce-themed leisure wear, and the warm pleasant feeling that comes from eating too much and knowing that you're with your own people. Even if the only thing that connects you is a love for a fast food giant that feeds you when you're hammered and shameless at 2 a.m.

We drank the Baja Blast! My Taco Bell fade and my friend's specialty manicure!Mark Shrayber

What does it mean to Live Mas? This is a question I am forced to ask myself over and over during my 24-hour stay at "The Bell," where I have stowed away as a friend's plus-one. We are, of course, both politely pretending that I'm a full-on guest with all the perks that entails, but we also both know that I wouldn't be here eating unlimited quesadillas poolside without her.

So maybe that's the first thing Live Mas means: To build strong lifelong connections which you can, with some luck, exploit to your benefit. :) :) :)

But this is too cynical an interpretation, because everyone here is so happy. Happy that they've gotten a reservation; happy that they can cool off in a room themed after an iconic Mountain Dew Drink, and happy that they can share their own personal story of what Taco Bell means to them. (Though there's no formal essay contest — I've checked.)

Me: This room won't be that cool. Also me: OH MY GOD, THIS IS THE COOLEST ROOM I'VE EVER BEEN IN!!!Mark Shrayber

Snatches of this story float around the "Fire" pool, where all the entertainment is concentrated: One couple canceled their trip to Prague because "Prague will always be there" — a brave stance considering climate change; another met last year on Tinder after the girlfriend's Taco Bell senior photos went viral; at the opening ceremony on Thursday, where sauce packets were cut instead of a ribbon, a city official brought others to tears with both her Taco Bell fashion and a memory of how her parents would feed an entire family with 19-cent-tacos from the first-ever Taco Bell in Downey, California.

Oh, I forgot one: The guy who skipped out on Prague? He got a giant bell shaved into the side of his head, so he might have to miss out on a black-tie event happening later this week. But it's all good. Bring on the nacho fries.

I make fast friends with four women who are here for a bachelorette party, the bride overwhelmed with good vibes and prosecco. This year, for her 30th, she rented a party bus. Inside? $100 worth of Taco Bell that her fiancee was worried might not be consumed.

"But little did he know," she shouts in the hot tub where we're "cooling off" after a long day of 108-degree sunning, "we ate it all!"

A bachelorette party and a birthday! We're really living it up (but also staying hydrated.)Mark Shrayber

Others whoop it up at the twist, but we all get it. Though there's no essay contest, I don't mind telling you that when my first boyfriend dumped me 14 years ago, I stuffed my face with chalupas. When I lost a job I really loved four years ago, I once ordered so much Taco Bell that the delivery app of my choice informed me I'd exceeded the maximum number of items they could comfortably fill in one order. We get it — though none of us can truly explain it.

There are, if you look at the The Bell from a literary perspective, many other writers who deserve this experience more than me. They could talk about the blue of the pool. Or the insouciance of youth. Draw parallels between marketing stunts such as this and the end-stage capitalism. Or envision a "Demolition Man" future where Taco Bell is fine dining and none of us know how to use the three shells in the bathroom to get ourselves clean.

And I wish these writers could be here to paint you these landscapes, but what you've got is me, a literal Taco Bell super-fan, and what I'm doing is eating and getting sunburned and taking a synchronized swimming class with the Aqualillies, who refer to themselves as "the world's most glamorous water ballet entertainment," but have very little idea of what to do with 10 eager recruits who can't stay afloat or on beat.


G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S!!Photo courtesy of Taco Bell.

"It's okay," one of the instructors comforts me just before the Tacolilies (the name of our "team") are invited to perform our watery version of "Senorita" — which was supposed to be two minutes long, then 1:15, and has now been judiciously cut down, due to talent, to about 45 seconds — in the bigger pool. "We regularly teach five-year-olds. And you're doing much better."

Usually, I would take offense at such blatant reads, but today I'm unbothered. I'll continue to be so right until I get home and discover that I've left all my electronics on United Flight 5223 (if anyone wants to get them back to me). And even then, I rage at myself for all of five seconds before checking that I've still got what's important: A certificate that says I did not drown while doing water ballet.

It's still there. As is my phone, which is blowing up with messages from people who took pictures of me in what Taco Bell calls its "power suit," and which is best described as "cult outfit, but kinda make it fashion." I bought my husband one, too, and I look forward to the argument we're going to have about holiday cards later.

This is "Live Mas."

I've never been so happy to match with someone else in my life. MaMark Shrayber

Or maybe it's the moment another stranger tells me that we'll be friends forever. Such friendships are forged quickly when you've got less than 24 hours to make lifelong connections and I'm pleased to get the full experience.

"We may never meet again," he says while we're swimming, "but we'll always have this time together."

Then we establish that he lives just across the park from me in San Francisco.

"Aw, man," he says, floating away to take pictures of the people he came with, "I've got lots of close friends I never see because they live across that damn park."

But the sentiment holds.

We Live Mas it on.

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