Program builds positive force in the community

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

I was recently introduced to a new program in Genesee County which organizers hope will teach young people about caring for others and reaching out a helping hand when they can.

It’s called I’m Concerned About the Blueberries and it is launching a new student ambassador program expected to result in hundreds of random acts of kindness around Genesee County.

As part of the program, two donations to area schools also will be awarded — one for $1,000 and another for $500.

The donations will be dedicated to school enrichment programs, which many area schools have struggled to continue because of budget cuts in recent years.

Organizer Phil Shaltz said in a press release: “Never underestimate the power of our young people. The passion and dedication we’ve seen has been amazing and I cannot wait to see the impact these student ambassadors have on our community.”

The hope is to make these students a positive force for change in our community — now and years from now.

The effort, which started this fall with a mysterious billboard along I-69 in Flint, gained nationwide notoriety before Shaltz, a Flint businessman and philanthropist, stepped forward explaining that the campaign encourages random acts of kindness.

“It’s about caring for each other and doing a little something, causing an avalanche of good,” he said.

As part of the Blueberry student ambassador program, Genesee County-based schools or individual classrooms (or collegiate student groups) recruit up to 10 student volunteers who agree to perform random acts of kindness.

Students then share at least two stories of the acts they performed and they will talk about what they learned from it. The community will be invited in May to vote for the best Blueberry student ambassador program — and help their school win the People’s Choice Award and $1,000.

A second $500 Founder’s Choice Award also will be given to an area school for the best individual ambassador effort.

The Blueberry student ambassador program is open to:

• All Genesee County schools or classes from sixth through 12 grades.

• Any Genesee County-based collegiate student organization.

• Up to 10 groups will be chosen to participate in this first Blueberry student ambassador cycle. Applications will be accepted only until slots are full.

• The $1,000 and $500 awards will be made in late May. The donations will go to the school for sixth-12th grade groups. At the collegiate level, the award will go directly to the student organization.

• Each program includes up to 10 volunteer student ambassadors.

• To apply or for additional information, interested schools or classes should e-mail

I urge students to take part in this caring program and the monetary awards aside, I hope it helps them all to see just how much good they can do by reaching out to help others in Genesee County.

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