More

Support for Syrian refugees in Canada is overwhelming, nonpartisan, and inspiring.

'You're safe at home now,' the Canadian prime minister tells Syrian refugees.

Support for Syrian refugees in Canada is overwhelming, nonpartisan, and inspiring.

Louisa Taylor, director of Refugee613 in Ottawa, Ontario, has an interesting problem.

Her organization is so inundated with donations and support for Syrian refugees that they're stretched to their absolute limits.

"Our phones are ringing off the hook, our inboxes are overflowing with offers of help," she told me. "[I have] more requests than I can meet."


Her organization is getting ready for the arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees who will soon call Canada their home.

Part of that process, Taylor explained, is simply having to manage the incredible generosity of Canadians. "We are inundated with offers to volunteer, to donate clothing and furniture, to create new programs, and it all takes work to manage that."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greeting refugees in Toronto. Photo by Nathan Denette/Associated Press.

The refugee program, which is Canada's most ambitious since the Vietnam War, officially became a reality late Thursday night, Dec. 10, 2015, when a plane carrying 163 Syrians landed in Toronto.

The refugees were greeted personally by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And he wasn't alone in embracing them.

All 163 refugees were given winter coats, and they were warmly welcomed by volunteers and a slew of politicians from across the political spectrum.

"It truly is a nonpartisan, national project," said John McCallum, Canada's Immigration Minister.

So nonpartisan, in fact, that among the people helping to welcome and process the refugees were members of the opposition party and notable Trudeau critics.

Trudeau was elected in a landslide victory earlier this year. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images.

A second government plane arrived in Montreal just two days later, on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, bringing an additional 161 refugees.

The program, or "programme" if you speak Canadian, also has overwhelming public support.

All of the refugees who arrived on the first flight were sponsored to come to Canada by small groups or individuals, who've raised over 28,000 Canadian dollars (just over $20,000) for each family.

One organization, "Yukon Cares," was able to raise $46,000 to sponsor a family, helping them with food, rent, clothing, and furniture. They did so in three months.

Syrian refugees arriving by boat in Turkey. Photo by Bulent Kilic/Getty Images.

It's hard not to be inspired by Canada's support and frustrated by the lack of it here at home.

Canada's program isn't perfect and, in fact, the overall timeline has been scaled back from bringing in 25,000 refugees before January, to 25,000 before March, but it's still leagues better than any resettlement plans here in the U.S.

America is due to take in 10,000 refugees over the next year, a significant increase from the 2,000 originally promised. Yet governors in 31 states have flatly refused to let in any refugees at all, citing what they believe to be a risk of Islamic terrorists entering the United States.

Anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States isn't helping either. With everyone from politically charged uncles at Thanksgiving to prominent presidential candidates taking the time to bash Muslims for being Muslim, public support for Syrian refugees is dismally low.

Honestly, his sign isn't as offensive as that '90s puffy jacket. Photo by Jewel Samad/Getty Images.

Canada is showing the world that Syrian refugees aren't going to bite.

"There's a whole new generation of Canadians seeing the power that comes from unleashing compassion," said Louisa Taylor. "It's a beautiful sight."

The refugees are being welcomed personally by the Prime Minister and with open arms by the Canadian public. They're being taken to hotels and will soon be set up in homes sponsored by Canadian families and charitable organizations.

They've escaped an unimaginably terrifying circumstance and have entered a country that has the courage, fortitude, and generosity to hand them a coat and tell them they're safe now.

Or, as one refugee put it:

"We feel as if we got out of hell and we came to paradise."

And if Canada is anything like I hope it is, those refugees will soon be enjoying moose rides through the park and swimming in pristine lakes of maple syrup.

Not bad, Canada. Not bad.

Pexels
True
Amazon

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.


Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.


Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

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.

True

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.

Welcometoterranova 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 "Welcometoterranova-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.