Monroe County School District’s Random acts of kindness challenge

Visitors and patients to Monroe County Medical Center had a bit of cheer brought to their day on a recent Friday morning as a chalk greeting of “May God Bless You,” awaited local residents approaching the entrance to the cafeteria. Word quickly spread of this uplifting message as more and more people shared experiences, via social media, of other chalked comments and “acts of kindness” found throughout the county over the next week.
These “acts,” first assumed to be a of couple random things committed by one person, turned out to be a major on taking of one of the counties biggest employers. This was brought to light by Christie Biggerstaff, Elementary Instructional Supervisor, who couldn’t help but brag a little on her employees, coworkers and friends as she noticed the posts popping up on Facebook and realized the impact of a recent project completed by the Monroe County School District (MCSD).
The MCSD employees approximately 430 people, with 72 of those participating in the event which was part of a Leadership Retreat. The retreat is an annual voluntary meeting where any staff member, from substitutes to District employees can sign up to hone skills needed in a leadership environment.
With this being the 19th year of the retreat, featuring themes throughout the years including scavenger hunts and breakout boxes, Biggerstaff wanted to surpass past activities for 2018 . And that she did, noting “Every year it is always a big thing, ‘how will we top this…what will we do next?’ I don’t know if I will ever top this. We may just make it a yearly thing, with a slight change to the theme each year.”
These retreats are funded by donations from businesses who work for the school district during the year. When things such as the cooling system need repairs, a lot of money is spent through different contractors and businesses. In return for their business, the district asks for donations toward this retreat. All funds come from those donations as well as staff members own money and time. That was also helped this year when the district received a Literacy Grant.
Biggerstaff also remarked on the willingness of her team to grant any wish she needs with these programs. With only six board vehicles available for the teams of 15, she asked principals to loan their personal vehicles toward transporting the groups around town and keys were handed over with no hesitation.
With a theme of MCSD LX3-Literacy, learning and love, Biggerstaff came up with the idea that while the school system is always focused on reading, love and kindness do come in to play, and a project was needed to show how to do better in that regard.
The 72 participants started out their night by reading articles on building student relationships and learning what they can do better in that aspect. They were then given needed materials, “bingo cards,” and goody bags containing items to help with their kindness adventure, and posters with tear off suggestions to hang throughout the town, and divided into random groups to “spread the love.”
Those materials included a bingo type sheet, composed of 15 acts of kindness and one “free style” activity. Teams were given 1.5 hours to complete the list and every group finished, including the free category.
Not only did the groups finish but, according to Biggerstaff, “they really enjoyed themselves. Everyone had a really good time and it was better for us than those receiving the kindness it seemed. Everyone loved it…you saw these big ol’ guys hugging people..just really getting into it. This is what being a leader is about.”
The acts of kindness included the above mentioned chalk quotations written out around town, delivering snacks bags to the police station and other service professionals, visiting the nursing home, visiting students homes and complimenting their achievements, collecting trash, pumping gas and passing out free hugs. While these acts inspired others to pay it forward, made the givers and receivers feel love and impacted an entire community, the one act Biggerstaff said she was most proud of was the “Blessing Boxes.” These boxes were filled with donated food and left around town in more populated areas such as apartment complexes in the county.
The event was humbling, exciting and inspiring as many people not only personally thanked the teams but came to social network to post the acts which had gone unnoticed while being completed.
“ I was really hoping this would make a lot of peoples day. It was kind of an outward reaction. When you work in such a tight knit community, things like this- people giving of their own time, it really makes an impact.”
Biggerstaff’s wish definitely came true as that impact of the retreat was felt all through the community and continues to spiral outward each day as the random acts of kindness are still found, posted about and paid forward. With the community still abuzz with the excitement of the season, hopefully the acts will continue well into the new year showing love through leadership, which was the goal of the event all along.
And while the frequency of the acts of kindness may wane through the year, perhaps being resuscitated annually, students, parents and families will never be able to forget the love shown to them by their instructors with these simple acts and that will leave a legacy unlike no other.

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