The 'legen—wait for it—dary' Neil Patrick Harris is pushing snack bars to help teachers
Courtesy of Quaker Chewy

Neil Patrick Harris is known for his diverse talents as an actor, singer, dancer, producer, emcee, writer, and even magician. Dude's got serious skills.

Off screen and offstage, he's also known for his diverse philanthropy, lending his fame and resources to various causes including cancer and AIDS research, green building initiatives, clean water access, hunger, LGBTQ support, and books for children in low-income communities.

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I recently spoke with Harris and asked him how he chooses what charities to support. He said that his personality doesn't really lend itself to choosing a singular cause—for him, it's more about the integrity of a charity. "I'm interested in knowing what organizations are actually giving a large percentage of what they get back to the actual charity itself," he says. "And then getting to know the people behind the charity. I'm kind of a stickler for authenticity in that way."


This month, Harris is partnering with Quaker Chewy granola bars and AdoptAClassroom.org to help teachers get supplies for their classrooms. According to AdoptAClassroom's website, 92% of classrooms have students whose families cannot afford school supplies, and teachers and principals often end up filling the gap out of their own pockets. The non-profit organization helps provide supplies for schools in need.

Throughout the month of September, Quaker will donate $1 of every Quaker Chewy purchase, up to $250,000, to AdoptAClassroom.org. To process the $1 donation from your purchase, go to choosechewy.com and enter the UPC code of your Quaker Chewy package. (You have to enter your birthdate to access the UPC code page, just FYI.) On the same page, you can also enter a favorite teacher in a drawing for a $500 gift card.

Harris says he decided to lend his voice to this partnership because he's invested in education and in "teachers being treated with the respect that they deserve." His own kids—twins Harper and Gideon, who will turn nine in October—are another reason.

"I'm a parent with kids who are an appropriate age for Quaker Chewy bars as a wholesome snack," he says, noting that the bars are a more nutritious and convenient alternative to many snacks they could eat in New York. "And they love them. They're all about the chocolate chip," he says, adding, "I like that they like the chocolate chip, because I'm all about the peanut butter."

Harris slips into humor naturally, but he's serious about helping teachers. He says that hosting an awards event for teachers really drove home how much educators sacrifice in their careers.

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"Teachers are so giving and selfless," he says, "and even dig out of pocket to get pencils and Kleenex and things that kids need because they're passionate about their job. And they're not acknowledged enough for it. So the fact that people can buy Quaker Chewy bars, go to choosechewy.com and put their UPC code, and then start giving money towards an organization that gives to teachers—that seems like the least we can do."

Harris and his husband, David Burtka, make a point of including their kids in their charity work, which Harris has said helps give them "a valuable and much-needed perspective on life." After chatting a bit about parenting, I asked him what the hardest part of raising kids has been so far. His answer undoubtedly rings true for most parents:

"I'm having to realize that the only certain thing is uncertainty. Just when I feel like I've figured out the crawling thing, they walk. And just when I figure out the walking thing, the talk. And just when I figure out the talking thing, they disagree. They're just constantly phasing up, and just when I think I've figured out the new phase, there's a newer phase. And that's been the most complicated thing, because I assumed some of my strengths would be in my wisdom and perspective, but my wisdom and perspective continues to change...I just feel like you wind up growing together and learning together and figuring it all out. And that makes everyone stronger. Part of being a parent is being willing to acknowledge that you're imperfect, and that you're trying to figure it all out together."

Thank you for that, NPH. And thank you for acknowledging the needs of teachers and classrooms, giving us an easy way to help, and generally being an awesome role model for all of us.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole exchange was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

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