ALGONA, Iowa – It’s a crazy concept: Do something kind, and have fun with it.
That’s what the Algona Chamber of Commerce initiated this summer after an anonymous donor came to the department with money and a creative idea. The city started a weekly scavenger hunt of sorts, where a medallion was hidden in public spaces throughout the town for residents to find. Each Tuesday morning, a clue was given on the Algona Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page, as well as broadcast over the radio, as to where the medallion was hidden. The clues and areas chosen to hide the medallion reflected town trivia and history. The person to find the medallion each week not only won $50 for themselves, but they also were asked to choose a local charity for the chamber to donate a matching $50 to.
“All of this was funded by our anonymous donor, and the idea was theirs as well,” said Vicki Mallory of the Algona Chamber of Commerce.
Mallory says the entire town got behind the Random Acts of Kindness project; one thirteen-year-old boy, Luke McKenna, in fact won the contest five times. But McKenna only kept the first $50 prize – each time after, he asked that his $50 prize, along with the matching $50 already donated to a charity of his choosing, go to non-profits in the area. Just from the times McKenna won the contest, local groups like the Kossuth Animal Rescue, St. Cecelia’s Church, Hopsice care team, a food pantry, and the Ministerial Association received a total of $450 in donations.
“It just kind of restores that belief that there’s a lot to offer people in these small communities, but there’s also people that maybe needed just a little bit of a ‘hand-up’ once in awhile instead of a hand-out,” Mallory said. “So by offering this, it raised awareness of, hey, we can have fun, while still helping out agencies that are helping people who are struggling for whatever reason.”
Mallory says the Algona Chamber of Commerce would love to coordinate the Random Acts of Kindness project again in spring 2016. However, they’ll need donors to come forward to fund the project, as it was funded this first time. If you’re interested in getting behind it, you can call the chamber at 515-295-7201.