We’re Excited to Announce, Two Winners of the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant

Congratulations to Mindy Ousley and Ashley and Dustin Beeler, each got $250 to fund their acts of kindness projects!

Kindness Grant Winner Mindy Ousley
Kindness Grant Winner Ashley and Dustin Beeler

Once again, we are extremely lucky to have so many wonderful people who support us and believe in our mission.  We truly appreciate all of the donations that make it possible for us to give out additional grants and awards, including this second grant.  

We’d also like to acknowledge the many people (almost 100) who sent in their fantastic ideas for kindness projects.  While we wish we could give our grant to every kindness project submitted, there were so many fantastic ideas, we regret we have only two to give. We want to thank each and every one of you for submitting your ideas and hope you continue to spread kindness everywhere you go!

About our August 2019 winners:

Mindy Oursley

Kindness Grant Winner Mindy Ousley

Mindy Oursley (Canton, OH) writes,“I am a 4th Grade Teacher at Whipple Heights Elementary in Perry Local School District.  Last school year, after a very tragic previous school year in which we lost 6 students in our district to suicide, I felt it in my heart to start a Kindness Club for 3rd and 4th Grade students in my building. 

My mission as a teacher has always been to teach my students kindness, compassion, and empathy.

However, with a Kindness Club I felt I could take this passion further. I want students to know they matter, that they are loved, and most importantly that they can be a catalyst for change by loving and caring about ALL people.  The club was a huge success, with over 75 students signing up to participate and 10 Jr. High students volunteering to help. In our first year as a club, we touched the lives of over 3,000 children and adults through the various kindness activities we did. We meet twice per month and each month focuses on a specific topic. We made kindness posters to hang all over our building, handed out notes of encouragement at football games and in our local parade, and made “you matter” bookmarks for all the students in our building. We also partner with local organizations. 

For example, one month we learned about compassion for the homeless and partnered with a local homeless shelter to make placemats with positive messages for their residents.

Another month we learned about being kind to those who have illnesses and we decorated meal delivery bags for chronically ill patients served through a local charity. Unfortunately, even though we have great support from administration, there simply isn’t funding available in the budget to help support my club, and all the supplies were purchased by me out-of-pocket, or graciously donated from supportive parents. 

This grant would be such an amazing blessing in helping me obtain the supplies I need to continue on with our mission to spread kindness this upcoming school year.

Construction paper, paint, crayons, markers, scissors, pencils, storage bins, etc. are all needed supplies that are the backbone of helping us do what we do. Please feel free to check out our Facebook page, Whipple Elementary’s Kindness Club, to see all of the ways in which the club not only helped spread kindness, but how I helped teach students the importance of being kind and compassionate to all people, and all living things.” 

We felt an immediate connection with Mindy, first, because we are very concerned about the high rate of mental illness and suicide and were saddened that their community was touched by so many deaths.  We hope spreading kindness and compassion can help break down the stigma of mental illness and let people know that others care, maybe give them a connection they didn’t know was there.  Second, we love the idea of 75+ students all reaching out, doing acts of kindness and knowing that their small acts of kindness, can have far reaching ripple effects, over and over and over again. 

Thank you, Mindy, for taking those tragedies and using them to make something good come out of it that will touch the lives of so many.  We look forward to following all of your kids and your Kindness Club activities.

Kindness Grant Winner Mindy Oursley With Her Kindness Club Students

Ashley and Dustin Beeler

Kindness Grant Winner Ashley and Dustin Beeler

Ashley and Dustin Beeler with daughter Amelia.

Ashley and Dustin Beeler (Bloomington, IN) write, “My husband and I have recently started a local chapter of The Little Free Pantry, and we are seeking funds to help us tackle the high demand we have found for emergency food access. So far, we have gone out of pocket to build and fill our first pantry, and two local churches have joined us and built and installed their own. All three of these units are getting a lot of traffic and use.

Little Free Pantry has sparked a new found sense of community and social responsibility here in Bloomington, and we want to help it keep growing.

Our community has a high rate of poverty and individuals experiencing homelessness, so the LFPs have become an important resource to expand access to free and nutritious foods as well as hygiene and household items.

If we receive the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant, we will be able to build and install two new pantries.

The first will be placed at our local Recovery Alliance to serve families impacted by addiction. The second will go into a rural community that is considered to be a “food desert” because of its high poverty rates and physical distance from resources.”

Learn more about the Little Free Pantry.  It’s based on the Little Free Library but instead of books, it’s food and toiletries.   

It’s beautiful that Ashley and Dustin made this a family project, and while they will get the pantries started, they will also be working with the community to help support it and keep it stocked.  We love the idea of neighbors helping neighbors.  It’s a give what you can, take what you need philosophy. We are happy to be able to support Ashley and Dustin and know that their kindness project will make a difference in the lives of so many people.  And that doesn’t just mean the people who are in need, the people who give will also be profoundly affected as doing acts of kindness is good for your health and makes you feel good and sometimes that makes you want to do more acts of kindness. Ripple, ripple, ripple, ripple. 

Below are pictures of the Little Free Pantries they built with our Kindness Grant.

Little Free Pantry
Little Free Pantry

As always, I’d appreciate it if you would help me get the word out about the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250 (nominate someone who inspires you) and the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant of $250 (submit an act of kindness you would do with $250).




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