By Penny Burns
Overcoming significant obstacles, the first annual Willapa Harbor Day of Kindness was a huge success!
The decision to hold this event in our community was made by Willapa United Methodist Church late last summer. We put together a Facebook page, Willapa Harbor Random Acts of Kindness, and began inviting friends to join. Soon after, we started to advertise the Day of Kindness event to be held on August 1, 2020. Our plan was to begin reaching out in person to all the local churches, civic organizations, businesses, schools, and local groups/clubs for partnerships, volunteers and financial support in May of 2020.
Then came the pandemic. Everything just stopped. We finally came to a point where we had to decide whether to go forward with at least a few of the scheduled activities, or to cancel everything until next summer.
Deciding to move forward, we submitted a grant to Fund for Families initiative sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church the night before it was due. Our new pastor Rev. Carrie Bland submitted a proposal and we received notification shortly afterward that we would be given an award of $1,000 provided we contributed a match and showed support from the community.
We had only three weeks to get it all done. Even so, we ended up with over 100 painted rocks to set out across the community, free coffee to give away at our espresso stands, free popcorn and movie rentals, five $35 gas vouchers, and twenty gift certificates for free craft classes. We partnered with our local laundromat to provide free laundry service, detergent and dryer sheets to those in our community who are without washers and dryers at home. Employees from our school districts put together goodie baskets and delivered them to the police departments in South Bend and Raymond, the Pacific County Sheriff’s Department, and the Fire Stations in South Bend, Raymond and Menlo. Plus, we sent goodie baskets to staff and residents of the nursing home and assisted living facility.
In addition to this, we also encouraged individuals to go out and perform random acts of kindness on their own. One woman cleaned up the area around our local swimming hole and picnic area. People continue to share some of the things they did, and their gratitude for encountering an act of kindness, on the Facebook page we set up.
But, the most amazing thing was that we were able to turn that $1,000 grant into over $6,000 in just two weeks by calling on local businesses, churches and private citizens. All of this money has gone to pay for past-due electric and water/sewer bills helping community members who are hurting in these hard times.
The Lord was with us every step of the way, making this a very successful event that has richly blessed our church and community members.
Penny Burns is a member of Willapa United Methodist Church in Raymond, Washington.