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Woman Raises Over $30,000 for Oregon Food Bank With Giant Cinnamon Rolls

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  • A Portland woman named Whitney Rutz auctioned off her “giant ass cinnamon rolls” to friends online, hoping to raise a little bit of money for the Oregon Food Bank.
  • But her bidders offered hundreds for the treats and continued to ask for more. The operation later evolved into Rutz saying that for each $500 donated to the food bank, she would bake a roll for local health care workers.
  • To keep up with demand, she changed her strategy, auctioning off a roll per day that can be kept or donated to health care workers in the winner’s name.
  • As of Wednesday, she’s raised over $30,000 and has delivered over 50 rolls so far. 

Auctioning Off Treats 

An amateur baker in Portland, Oregon raised over $30,000 for a local food bank by auctioning off what she calls “giant ass cinnamon rolls.”

Whitney Rutz told Oregon Live that she has been self-isolating with her husband, Paul, and 7-year-old daughter, Elsa, since schools closed in March. As a way to try and cheer herself up during such a difficult time, Rutz asked her daughter to help her make a cinnamon roll for their family.

She later posted an Instagram photo of their creation, which ended up being a massive dessert about 12 inches wide and 3 inches deep. Soon after, friends began to comment and ask if she could bake them one too.

“I’m an amateur baker,” Rutz told the news outlet. “The recipe isn’t original.”

That’s when she was inspired to bake another one of her treats in an effort to help her community. This time, she posted a photo calling her dessert a “giant ass cinnamon roll” and actioned it off to the highest bidder. The money earned would then go to the Oregon Food Bank. 

Her goal was only about $50, but to Rutz’s surprise, the roll sold for $300. From then on, the requests continued to come in. The losing bidder of her last roll even promised to bid $250 for another.

Two others agreed to match any bid on a third roll and the company where they worked offered to match their bid as well. 

“That sold for $750,” Rutz explained. “Excuse me, I’m going to start crying.”

She also made her giant rolls for another online auction she ran. “One sold for $285,” she said. “The other was sold and Nike did a three times match. That roll sold for $1,215.”

Officials with the Oregon Food Bank eventually contacted her, curious who was raising money for their organization. “I was just sending donations directly to them on Venmo,” said Rutz told the news outlet. 

Donations to Health Care Workers 

Rutz’s fundraising efforts evolved once more when a customer told her that she couldn’t eat the giant roll herself since she lives alone. Instead, she asked Rutz to donate the treat to any local health care worker.

From then on, Rutz said that for every $500 donated to the Oregon Food Bank on its website, she would make a giant cinnamon roll for health care workers.

With the help of a friend who is a nurse, she managed to get some of the treats to hospitals, assisted living centers, and paramedics in the area.

According to the news outlet, Rutz has made 55 rolls and nearly 50 were donated to medical workers. By Wednesday, the food bank had raised over $30,000, with more continuing to come in.

Susannah Morgan, the food bank’s CEO, said Rutz’s unique way of showing support is an “amazing example” of people coming together to make a difference in the lives of others.

To keep up with demand, the threshold was increased from $500 to $1,000. Now, Rutz had has switched her approach, auctioning off a roll per day. The winner can choose to accept the roll themselves or donate it to a health care worker in their name.

Portland singer and performance artist Storm Large even caught wind of Rutz’s operation, asking if she could help deliver the goods to health care workers.

When Rutz told Large that a doctor was hoping to get an autographed box from her, Large told Rutz she would “do one better.”

“My daughter and other neighborhood kids had decorated the boxes,” said Rutz. “Storm said she would draw on all the boxes we use to deliver the rolls.”

Rutz plans to continue making rolls as long as donations continue to be given to the food bank.

“At some point, when things open up, the general sadness will end,” she said. “That’s when interest will taper off, and I’ll call it quits.”

“Sometimes you have to create joy and spread it around,” said Rutz. “I don’t know where I’d be emotionally and mentally if didn’t have this project to steer me in such a positive direction.”

See what others are saying: (Oregon Live) (The Takeout) (KGW8)

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Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”

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  • Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
  • Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
  • Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.

Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017. 

Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony. 

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”

Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.

“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”

What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”

Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing. 

“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.  

That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”

“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”

Nation Impressed by Gorman

“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment. 

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”

Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration. 

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation. 

Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day. 

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)

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SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section

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  • The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June. 
  • The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
  • Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary. 
  • It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.

College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay

College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.

Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”

The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary. 

While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S. 

Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.

With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.

The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test

In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.

In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.

According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.

For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)

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Biden To Block Trump’s Order Lifting COVID-19 Travel Ban

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  • President Trump issued an executive order Monday lifting a ban on travelers from the Schengen area of Europe, the U.K., Ireland, and Brazil. 
  • Trump said the policy will no longer be needed starting Jan. 26, when the CDC will start requiring all passengers from abroad to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.
  • The move was cheered by the travel industry; however, incoming White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki warned that Biden’s administration does not intend to lift the travel restrictions. 

Trump Order End To COVID-19 Travel Ban

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday ending his administration’s ban on travelers from the Schengen area of Europe, the U.K., Ireland, and Brazil.

That ban was put in place last spring in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. In his announcement, however, Trump said the policy will no longer be needed starting Jan. 26, when new rules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention go into effect.

Starting that day, the CDC will require all passengers from abroad to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.

The recommendation to lift the ban reportedly came from Alex Azar, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. According to Trump’s proclamation, “the Secretary reports high confidence that these jurisdictions will cooperate with the United States in the implementation of CDC’s January 12, 2021, order and that tests administered there will yield accurate results.”

It’s worth noting that the ban will stay in place for travelers from Iran and China. Still, Trump’s announcement was generally cheered by members of the travel industry who have been pushing to lift the ban and require preflight testing instead. 

Biden To Block Trump’s Order

Soon after the news broke, the incoming White House press secretary for President-elect Joe Biden, Jennifer Psaki, warned that Biden would block Trump’s order.

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she wrote on Twitter.

“On the advice of our medical team, the Administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26.  In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” she added.

With that, it seems unlikely that Trump’s order will actually take effect. 

It’s also worth noting that this is one of many executive orders Trump has issued just before inauguration day.

Source: Whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions

Some of these orders could soon be overturned once Biden takes office Wednesday. Biden is also expected to roll out his own wave of executive orders in his first 10 days as president.

See what others are saying: (The Wall Street Journal) (The New York Times) (CNN)

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