When a local mosque was burned down, a town raised $80k to rebuild it in less than a day.

On Nov. 15, 2015, residents of Peterborough, Ontario woke up to the kind of news that makes your heart sink.


A mosque — the only one in the community — was burned down. Though the motive for the attack is still unclear, police have declared that the fire was set intentionally, and the blaze is being investigated as a potential hate crime.

Since the Paris attacks, hostility towards Muslims has become far more visible in Europe and North America.

The U.K. has experienced a huge spike in attacks against Muslims. Many U.S. presidential candidates have called for halting the flow of Syrian refugees into the country — especially if they're not Christian. Some have gone so far as to propose shutting down mosques and have insinuated that American Muslims cheered on the 9/11 attacks.


But residents of Peterborough refused to give into suspicion and fear and were determined to do something to help their neighbors rebuild.

"Damages are estimated to exceed $80K. We encourage members of the community, of all or no faiths, to help the Muslim community restore their place of worship," Peterborough resident Duane Rouselle wrote on a fundraising page he created.

Rouselle told Upworthy that he donated all he had — the 17 cents in his bank account.

"When I heard the news — I heard it from somebody who lived beside the Mosque, before it hit the news — I felt compelled to do something, anything," he wrote in an e-mail.

The fundraiser hit its $80,000 goal before the first day was over.


And the donations kept pouring in. As of Nov. 23, 2015, the community had raised over $110,000 to help rebuild the mosque.

The community didn't just rally to raise money.

Other religious groups in the city immediately stepped up to offer displaced members of the mosque space to gather, worship, and pray.



"There are no words to describe how amazing our community has represented itself as a giving, loving, peaceful and supportive community," Rouselle wrote.

The mosque will be able to rebuild, and the Peterborough community deserves massive congratulations for living up to its highest ideals.

In the wake of a terrible tragedy, it's natural — and understandable — to be afraid. It's easy to look at the perpetrators of unspeakable violence and draw quick, and not always accurate, conclusions about people who look like them.

"Our acts of kindness should not conceal the very real threats that people have to live with on a daily basis," Rouselle wrote in his e-mail. And he's right.

It's important to stand up for the least empowered members of our communities — even when we don't know them that well, or disagree with them.

In the wake of the positive press, some have pointed to the Peterborough imam's retrograde views on marriage and women's rights. And it's OK to be offended by them! But they're not a reason to not help a community. And they certainly don't justify what happened to the mosque.

Far too often, we turn to people in our communities who look different, think differently, pray differently and think, "You are other," and "We're afraid of you." And we turn our backs.

Peterborough didn't. They said, "You are all one of us. And we've got your back."

We could all stand to learn from them.

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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