Why one city is looking for the kids who sent messages of support after Katrina, 10 years later.

10 years ago, Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed Kim Bergeron's hometown of Slidell, Louisiana.

Slidell, Louisiana, 16 days after Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.


"We took a direct hit," Bergeron, a local relief worker, told Upworthy.

With nearly all of the city's buildings devastated or in disrepair, relief workers clustered into the only municipal building that was still functioning. They slept on cots in hallways, used makeshift showers that were nothing but a curtain and a hose, and ate thrown-together meals served outside in a tent.

"We were there 24/7," Bergeron said. "Many of the employees had lost their homes and couldn't go home."

But the worst wasn't over.

"When we heard [Hurricane] Rita was in the gulf, spirits just plummeted," Bergeron recalled. "To be quite honest, many people just lost it. We didn't know what to do. We didn't know how to act. It was just more than we could handle.

"And that's when we got these cards."

The cards arrived in a box from a group of schoolchildren in Massachusetts.

For the demoralized relief workers of Slidell, they changed everything.

Photo by Kim Bergeron.

"It was just like sunshine in the middle of all this darkness and despair," Bergeron said.

"It was just what we needed."

Though they were only a small gesture, the cards gave Bergeron and her colleagues the strength to go on rebuilding, despite the dark clouds on the horizon.

10 years later, Bergeron decided it was time to write those kids a thank-you note.

She doesn't know who they are or what school they were from, but she wants them to know what an incredible impact their cards had.

Photo by Kim Bergeron.

"I would love nothing more than for those kids, now teenagers I'm sure, to recognize what a difference they made," she told Upworthy.

"For the people who received this, it was much-needed medicine at a time when it was really, really needed."

Photo by Kim Bergeron.

Here's her letter of gratitude:

Dear Schoolchildren of Massachusetts,

It's been nearly ten years since we received the box of cards that you sent us following Hurricane Katrina. I know that you're not quite so little anymore—some of you may be in high school, perhaps some have graduated. But this message is sent with the intent of letting you know what you, as elementary school students, did for our city's first responders when you sent your well wishes.

Photo by Kim Bergeron.

I'm not sure how or why you selected our little city of Slidell instead of one of the larger cities to receive your gift of hope. Perhaps your teacher knew that Slidell was the Louisiana city hardest hit by the storm. Or perhaps she was from a small city herself, and knew that the majority of relief efforts would be channeled through larger, metropolitan areas. Or perhaps we just got lucky.

Photo by Kim Bergeron.

Now, here's what you may not know: on the day your box of cards arrived in the only City of Slidell complex that was not destroyed by Katrina, we had just learned that Hurricane Rita was in the gulf and it, too, was headed our way. We were still pretty much in shock from living in the movie-of-the-week that was the aftermath of Katrina. Panic set in. Spirits plummeted. And we didn't know how or if we could deal with another hurricane.

Then your box arrived. And for the moments we spent perusing your cards, we were enveloped by the love with which they were created. And it helped.

Photo by Kim Bergeron.

We taped your cards on the doors and walls of our office, and they helped ease the stress with which we were dealing, and that which was still to come.


You gave us sunshine in the midst of darkness. And for that we are grateful.


My only regret is that, ten years later, I cannot recall from which school these were sent, so I could send you a personal thank you note, yet again, to let you know how much your cards saved all of us.


It is my hopes that you see this message, and you know that your kindness is still remembered a decade later.


The cards continue to inspire Bergeron and her colleagues to help those in need to this day.

When Hurricane Sandy struck the U.S. East Coast in 2012, Bergeron and a colleague organized a relief effort called The Train of Hope for Sandy Relief, which included a card drive. For the 10th anniversary of Katrina and Rita this year, she's hosting an auction to support local Habitat for Humanity rebuilding efforts in the region.

In the meantime, Bergeron hopes to focus on the positive and remind people that when disaster strikes, even the smallest gesture of kindness can make a difference.

"Even little things become big things," she said.

Photo by Kim Bergeron.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."