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The numbers are in: more than $238 million was raised for a massive relief fund

By almost any measure, 2020 was a terrible year. A global pandemic. Economic downturn. Racial injustice. In a year like this, it's easy to lose sight of the good. Despite all the challenges and heartache this year, there was still good to be found. I count myself lucky to have had a front row seat to one of the year's best good news stories: the massive outpouring of solidarity and support for the global COVID-19 response being led by the World Health Organization (WHO). People around the world stepped up to help people they've never met, in places they've never been -- in a big way.


More than 650,000 people from just about every country in the world -- together with hundreds of companies and philanthropies -- raised more than $238 million to support the WHO's pandemic response. To put that in perspective, that is the second largest source of financial resources for WHO's COVID-19 response, behind only the government of Germany. The funds were raised through the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO, which the UN Foundation helped launch in March to offer individuals, companies, and private organizations a way to directly support the WHO-led response. We at the UN Foundation have been completely blown away by the breadth of supporters and the depth of their generosity.

A woman in Ireland, Karen Forde, launched a squats challenge to drive donations to the Fund. She did about 2,000 squats herself -- which is downright impressive -- and personally matched donations up to €1,000. Joshua "DiMez" DiMezza, a cancer survivor and devoted video gamer, got the online gaming community involved. By live-streaming his games over Facebook Gaming, he raised tens of thousands of dollars from his followers. Even celebrities -- from Matthew Perry, to Post Malone, to Queen and Adam Lambert -- used their platforms to garner support for the Fund. And in April, the global One World: Together at Home broadcast raised millions, with Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder and the Rolling Stones among the musicians who performed. Jimmy Fallon and Lady Gaga even Face-timed Apple CEO TimCook live on-air to ask the company to donate -- and it did. But Apple wasn't the only company that stepped up -- far from it. Facebook and Google offered matching donations and companies as diverse as TikTok, Adidas, GSK, and FIFA all contributed.

People around the world gave what they could despite the economic uncertainty. The average individual donation was about $60, and comments left by donors on the Facebook fundraiser show what solidarity looks like. People left heartwarming messages in multiple languages, thanking frontline workers and writing, "we are in this together," and "let's help each other and save lives."

Everyone who donated made a difference because every dollar counted. Solidarity drove this Fund. And quickly getting donated dollars to WHO and partners like the World Food Programme, the UN Refugee Agency, and UNICEF mean that solidarity has delivered help to those most in need. And I do mean that literally. In the critical early days of the pandemic, WHO and the WorldFood Programme teamed up to ship millions of items of essential supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE) and diagnostic kits to some of the hardest hit areas. Carried by cargo planes, these became known as "Solidarity Flights" -- the first of which delivered enough supplies to help frontline workers care for over 30,000 patients across Africa.

By late spring, thanks to the Fund's support, they were able to rebuild a sophisticated global supply chain effort that has since distributed hundreds of millions of units of PPE and other supplies to 170 countries. And in Lebanon, a Syrian refugee by the name of Midia Said Sido learned how to make soap in her kitchen at home. Through a training course offered by the UN Refugee Agency and made possible with support from the Fund, Sido has been making soap for her family and neighbors -- helping her community stay healthy and slow the spread of the virus. In a refugee camp in Kenya, a pregnant woman named Eliana was able to continue receiving prenatal care throughout the pandemic thanks to the UN Refugee Agency. They were able to keep the local hospital open and ensure maternal health services continued uninterrupted with Fund support. In October, Eliana gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Christena. There are countless more stories like Sido and Eliana's, countless more people who have received life-saving assistance thanks to the kindness and profound generosity of donors from190 different countries who have chipped in. The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund represents humanity at its very best. And it's a powerful reminder that even in the darkest of times, we can count on solidarity to see us through.

Kate Dodson is Vice President for Global Health at the UN Foundation.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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