A look at 1,000 Flint-area kids making a difference as Blueberry Ambassadors

FLINT, Michigan — It's time again to see how much good 1,000 kids in Flint and Genesee County can do. 

"I'm Concerned About the Blueberries" officially kicked off its sixth year on Oct. 11, 2018, at the University of Michigan-Flint's Recreation Center. About 1,000 students in second grade and older from 50 schools attended the event and pledged to be Blueberry Ambassadors and perform at least three random acts of kindness.

See the photo story below for more about the event.

Flint businessman Phil Shaltz launched “I’m Concerned About The Blueberries” in 2013 with a mysterious billboard along I-69 in Flint. It gained international notoriety before Shaltz stepped forward to explain that the campaign encourages random acts of kindness. He then developed the Blueberry Ambassador program to engage young people throughout Genesee County in volunteerism and  show that anyone — and everyone — can and should make a difference in the community. 

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

Participants each receive a Blueberry Ambassador T-shirt, wristband, and Blueberry Cards (which encourage others to pay their kindness forward). Prizes, including two opportunities for Blueberries to give away scholarships to the University of Michigan-Flint, are awarded at an end-of-year awards ceremony in May.

Additional groups still are being accepted into the 2018-19 Blueberry Ambassador program. Sign up here or email [email protected] for more information. 

Pizza lines up waiting for the 2018-19 Blueberry Ambassadors at UM-Flint Rec Center.
Some students started arriving more than an hour before the official start of this year's Blueberry Ambassador kickoff party on Oct. 11, 2018 at UM-Flint.

I'm Concerned About the Blueberries is open to all Genesee County students in third grade and older. About 60 schools signed up to participate in the random acts of kindness campaign.Blueberry Founder Phil Shaltz launched I'm Concerned About the Blueberries with a mysterious billboard that gained international notoriety in 2013. Always full of surprises, this year oversized blueberry inflatable balls fell from above the students and were bounced around like beach balls. About 1,000 students attended the Blueberry kickoff party on Oct. 11, 2018 at UM-Flint.The scene, like usual, was chaotic and fun for the Blueberry Ambassadors, who were each given T-shirts.Blueberry Founder Phil Shaltz with one of the oversized blueberries at the 2018-19 kickoff party.Marjory Raymer, Flintside publisher and managing editor, serves as emcee for the Blueberry Kickoff event.GISD Assistant Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff thanks the teachers for showing students the importance of kindness. The youngest blueberry ... OK, she's not official yet, but she is the younger sister of Blueberry Makayla McArthur of Davison. Teacher Cayla Dowdall, one of the first winners of the Blueberry Inspirational Teacher Award, talks about the importance of Blueberries. Blueberry Founder Phil Shaltz asks how many students are return Blueberries.Blueberry Founder Phil Shaltz talks to the Ambassadors about the importance of fulfilling an obligation and being kind.U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee takes a photo during the Blueberry kickoff party. Isaiah Oliver, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, made a surprise visit in Phil Shaltz's blueberry costume.A Blueberry Ambassador shows of his wristband, an identifier of students who participate in the random acts of kindness campaign. All Blueberry Ambassadors receive a T-shirt, wristband, and three Blueberry Cards to pass out along with their good deeds.About 1,000 Blueberry Ambassadors celebrated the kickoff of the annual random acts of kindness campaign on Oct. 11, 2018. At center is Founder Phil Shaltz.
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