Terminally ill Washington elector openly wept after sharing what casting his ballot meant

As all 50 states fulfilled their duty in the Electoral College to officially elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States on December 14, a sadly beautiful scene unfolded in the Senate chambers of the Washington State Capitol.

Jack Arends is one of Washington's 12 electors whose job it was to cast their vote for Biden, as the former vice president won the state with 58% of the vote. But for Arends, executing that duty held a special significance. The 64-year-old elector arrived at the capital in a wheelchair, wearing a mask and a hat that read "PLAY NICE." And when it came time for him to say a few words about casting his vote, his brief speech cast a solemn, patriotic atmosphere throughout the room.

He began by thanking Washington's Democratic Governor Jay Inslee and Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, his fellow electors, and Democratic leaders for the kindness and support they'd shown him in the process of getting there.

"I have noted through this time that the electoral college is not great, but it is the system we have in place," he said. "Knowing that, I was set on being faithful elector, so I cast my ballot today for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I did so enthusiastically, of my own choice. I did not need a law to tell me I had to do it. Today is a chance to begin the end of the Trump administration. I was glad to do my duty, to rid our nation of a petty dictator. Had he won a second term, there is no limit to the damage he could have done to the world."

Arends then went on to make a sobering announcement.


"It will be up to others to do the hard work of rebuilding our nation, as my health is failing. In November I was told there is no more medical treatment that can help me, so it was important for me to do this one thing that I could do, while I still can. Again, thank you. And God bless our great country."

Arends then lay his head down on the table and openly wept.

Elector Jack Arends casts his vote for Joe Biden www.youtube.com

The room burst into applause for Arends. The Everett Herald newspaper reported that Arends had actually received the news of his terminal heart condition just days after he was selected to serve as an elector. "I don't know how much time I am going to have on this earth, but I am going to make it count while I am here and that includes being an elector," Arends told the paper prior to the proceedings. "It's that one last box I want to check — I am determined to check it."

Another detail from Arends casting his vote is that he did so with a Sharpie pen instead of the traditional quill—a symbolic jab at Trump signing legislation with a black Sharpie.

"The ceremony and tradition of this meeting marked an end to one of the most contentious elections of our time," said Secretary of State Wyman, one of the many Republican state election officials who have defended the integrity of this election. "While some people continue to call into question this election, average citizens from all walks of life will step up today to exercise their responsibility to perform their constitutional duty."

"It's a great weight lifted from my shoulders being able to do this," Arends told The Herald after the vote. "I feel gratified to do what we were elected to do."

This is what true patriotism looks like. Thank you for your service, Mr. Arends.

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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.


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.