STEUBENVILLE - Urban Mission Ministries of Steubenville is spreading the word about spreading goodness.
And it's all about encouraging others to "spread goodness" throughout the community through random acts of kindness.
The "Campaign for Good - Spreading Goodness" kicks off March 1 and runs through the end of April, according to the Rev. Ashley Steele, executive director of the mission located at 301 N. Fifth St.
CAMPAIGN TO KICK OFF — Urban Mission Ministries of Steubenville is preparing to kick off its “Campaign for Good — Spreading Goodness” that will run March 1 through the end of April, according to the Rev. Ashley Steele, the mission’s executive director. Spreading the goodness by sending a goodie box with jelly, bread and a note of encouragement and appreciation is one of four ways to participate.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
It has four elements to it with an opportunity to partner "for good;" to spread the goodness with a "goodie box;" to join in a foot-washing on Maundy Thursday; or to host a "for good" fundraiser.
Campaigns are nothing new to the mission that in 2012 served 20,000 hot meals, distributed more than 1.4 million pounds of food and provided Christmas to more than 1,000 children and teens.
"Every spring we usually do some type of campaign, whether it's an awareness campaign or a fundraising campaign," Steele said, explaining that the Feinstein Foundation campaign, for instance, has been an annual tradition that proportionately matches money raised for the mission's hunger ministry in March and April as it will again this year.
But the "Campaign for Good - Spreading Goodness," she said, runs parallel to the mission's theme for 2013 - with the emphasis on servanthood.
"Our focus this year as a staff and as volunteers is all about service - service to people that we provide services to, to the community, just really being servants," she said of the brainstorming thought process behind the new campaign that will begin March 1 and continue through the mission's volunteer recognition banquet on April 26.
"There's always a campaign for something so we thought that's something that we can use, and with our faith as a foundation, what we're trying to do is spread goodness," she said of the mission's purpose from day to day.
The bread and jelly part of the campaign are symbolic of the basic food staples the mission provides through its distribution program.
The "spreading goodness" theme has been in the mission staff's mindset since the end of 2012, according to Steele.
"Riding home one day I just realized that sometimes we just need to hear a good word or two. We certainly know that there's good news out there, and it comes through the Bible, of course, through the gospel message, but also the good taking place in our community," she said.
"We really have already started kind of a Facebook campaign to start it off, and we're building upon that, and any time I am going to speak at a church, I give them a little heads up about it so we're spreading it to churches, businesses and organizations," she said of promoting the campaign.
"So we're just kind of starting on the ground level some places and seeing where it goes," she said.
That being said, Steele describes the campaign that will have public reminders with quotes of inspiration as one that can involve everyone - individuals, churches, businesses and organizations.
Steele elaborated on the four ways to spread goodness.
BECOME A PARTNER "FOR GOOD"
"You can always become a partner with the mission, and you can do that any time of the year, but the designation this time is to be a partner for good, and you can do that by contributing a certain amount each month," Steele said.
It could be, for example, a recurring donation of $25, $50, $75 or $100 - "whatever people think they can do in terms of their budget, but that's a way they can know that they're making a difference each and every month whether it's providing a bag of food for a family for a couple weeks or if it's providing a week's worth of meals downstairs (in Unity Kitchen) for a family, but they can join with us," Steele said.
SPREAD THE GOODNESS WITH A "GOODIE BOX"
This offers a couple of options, according to Steele, both of which involve specially made "goodie boxes" bearing a "Spreading Goodness" campaign label and containing a jar of jelly, a loaf of freshly baked bread and a note of encouragement to someone doing good in the community.
For a gift of $20 or more, mission staff will deliver a box to a community servant in a category of the giver's choosing such as local military personnel or veterans; a teacher or administrator; a mail carrier; a firefighter or police officer; a hospital or nursing home patient; a waiter or waitress; a cashier; a custodian; a pastor or clergy member; an elected official; or a complete stranger.
The delivery will be made at random in this case but the giver also has the option to present a goodie box to a specific recipient if so desired.
Either way, Steele said, the goodie box is intended to be an acknowledgment that "somebody's thinking of you, that sort of thing."
And the recipient then has the option "to spread goodness to somebody else," according to Steele.
"There's the option to keep it going - like paying it forward," she said.
"We have already gotten some requests in to send goodie boxes," Steele said.
JOIN AS AS WE WASH THE FEET OF OTHERS
The public is invited to join staff and volunteers on Maundy Thursday, March 28, at the mission from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to participate in foot washing and/or collect toiletry items such as soap and wash towels.
"On Maunday Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, a lot of churches participate in some type of foot-washing anyway that day, but we've never done an event like that here," Steele said.
"We thought we could build upon the idea, not only wash the feet of people, and we would make sure they know it's from the Bible and something that Jesus did, but we think it also shows that we want to serve the people and even in ways that people aren't used to these days, but we think that with this we can also build upon that and provide some food that day for people so make it into an event," Steele said.
The mission will be collecting personal care items such as shampoo and soap to pass out that day.
"If people want to come and participate and have their feet washed, they can wash the feet of others, they can help provide food, they can help collect and pass out these personal care items, whatever it might be," Steele said.
"We don't just want to wash feet, we also want to have something for people to take when they leave, and we're talking about just handing out 'Our Daily Bread' (devotionals) just make it something nice for people to have," she said.
"We're just going to try it out, and people may think it's weird, but I think sometimes it's nice to provide a counter-cultural example sometimes, and that's a way to show that we hopefully have a heart for service for the people who come here in our community," Steele said.
HOST A "FOR GOOD"
Steele said the mission frequently fields inquiries from churches, businesses and individuals interested in assisting the mission in some way, including doing something to raise money.
Throughout March and April, groups, churches, businesses and individuals could host an event or fundraiser "for good" with all donations collected used toward a program of choice at the mission, according to Steele.
"They could use this as a kind of a starting point and do like a 'Bowl for Good' or maybe something they already do and put our title on it or plan a new event," she said. "I think we'll build upon that as the years go on but for now we just wanted to leave it as an option if people want to do a canned goods collection, they can do a canned food drive for good."
Information on participating in any of the four areas can be obtained by contacting the mission by phone at (740) 282-8010 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The campaign's beginning during the Lenten season gives cause for reflection, according to Steele.
"We are in Lent now, and this is just an opportunity for people to maybe give generously during this time - as you give up something, then maybe you can give something as well," she said.
"Not everybody we reach out to probably focuses in on Lent and sees it as an important time, but I think it can be for a lot of people, that's a spiritual discipline for them, and so we're kind of playing off that as well," Steele said.
"We hope to build upon it each year and certainly fine-tune it," Steele said of the campaign.
"I guess here at the mission we just want to do our part in spreading some good in our area, and we've been blessed tremendously throughout the years from people being generous to us," she said.
"This is a way that we can hopefully pass that on and partner up with people who also have that desire to do some good."
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)