#AdAstraStrong Norton County Community Foundation

“Ad astra per aspera” is the state motto of Kansas, which translates to “to the stars through difficulties” – a sentiment that has never felt more true than it does today. It emphasizes our values and optimism that, even when faced with the most difficult hardships, we come together as a state and keep our sights set on what’s important. We launched our #AdAstraStrong campaign to highlight “stars” throughout Kansas who are going above and beyond to give back to their community and provide hope during these challenging times.

We have extended this campaign by partnering with the Kansas Association of Community Foundations to recognize communities and organizations that are working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, standing up for racial equality and working to better their local communities. The selected local community foundation promoting its stars will receive a $10,000 donation from our Blue Health Initiatives. Stay tuned for more star stories and stay #AdAstraStrong.

We are excited to recognize our next community star and program, the acts of kindness Bingo game created by the Norton County Community Foundation (NCCF). The NCCF will receive a $10,000 donation to continue its work to help the community through the COVID-19 pandemic. We spoke with Bethany Shirk, director of communications for NCCF, about the Bingo game they created, which encourages members of the community to practice good deeds and to put money back into the local economy.

How did the NCCF get the idea for a Bingo game to encourage acts of kindness in the Norton Community?

When COVID-19 started to affect our community, the NCCF received a gift from an anonymous donor who asked us to put together a program that would respond to the needs of the community in some capacity. We had seen variations of Bingo games in other communities across the nation and decided to make one for our community.

Our Bingo game included acts of kindness for members of the community to complete to boost morale in our community. The board included 24 acts of kindness. All members of the community had to do to participate was download the Bingo card, upload three photos of themselves completing the acts of kindness with the hashtag #NorCoBingo and enter the drawing for the prize once they got Bingo. The drawing gave participants the chance to win $100 in Bingo Bucks. The Bingo Bucks could only be spent at local businesses in the area by a certain date. We wanted to ensure money would be going back into the local economy as quickly as possible.

What kinds of acts of kindness were included on the board?

There were various acts of good included on each card. A few examples include: mail a card to a friend or relative, drive around town and wave at three people, send a note to an essential worker, donate to a local nonprofit or make cards for nursing home residents.

Were there any rules that went along with the Bingo game?

Each person who submitted their Bingo card had to post three photos of themselves participating in the acts of good to social media using the hashtag #NorCoBingo. Individuals could only win once; however, multiple members of the same family were eligible to win. We also stipulated that all Bingo Bucks won from this contest had to be used at local businesses by June 30.

How was the game received by the community?

After we posted the game to our website and social media accounts and advertised on our local radio stations and in the local newspaper, we received 135 submissions for winning Bingo on the acts of kindness cards.

One of the main goals of the game was to boost our local economy. We awarded $9,100 and of that $8,975 was redeemed by the deadline. Because of that cash prize, 26 different small businesses in the area had Bingo Bucks spent in their stores, restaurants, etc. We were happy to see such a wide variety of businesses benefit from this program!

What is something you’d like the people in your community to know? Or, something you’d like to tell all of them?

We want to thank everyone in our community who made this game so successful – the donor, participants, local businesses, Chamber of Commerce and Nex-Tech, a local technology company that designed the Bingo Card and Rules graphics for us.

We also want people to know that community foundations are very diverse in the types of programming they can do and the impact they can have in their communities. As a local community foundation, we encourage anyone to contact us with their philanthropic ideas or needs and see how we can work together.

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