Created in 2007 by philanthropist Shari Arison and organized by Ruach Tova, a nonprofit organization under the Ted Arison Family Foundation, Good Deeds Day is an annual celebration of positive community action and doing good deeds, bringing together 1 million volunteers from over 60 countries each year.
Since 2013, Hillel Israel has been leading the global efforts to promote participation in Good Deeds Day and in 2015, students from 68 Hillels around the world took part in Good Deeds Day, celebrating doing good for the benefit of others, with the slogan – "Hillel: Students Doing Good Globally."
In April 2016, George Mason University will be hosting its third annual Good Deeds Day (GDD) in partnership with Mason Hillel and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. GDD started in Israel in 2007. Our partners at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being (CWB) supported our work to help further our shared value to inspire those on our campus to understand the benefit of doing good every day.
Our success with GDD results from our coalition of partners. Each organization contributed to the vision of a successful, engaging, and impactful day for all students and faculty on our campus. CWB hired a student worker to organize and execute GDD under Hillel’s supervision. We convened a student executive planning committee to ensure the event is student organized, staff facilitated. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington helps design and print high quality branded materials along with a grant for additional marketing materials (SWAG). Ask Big Questions partnered with Mason for Good Deeds Day by awarding a generous grant. This was to spark a greater conversation on campus around GDD. Lastly, the organizers of GDD, Ruach Tova, gave Mason over 250 tee shirts to give to volunteers and participants in the day.
Ruach Tova supported the idea of GDD occurring near International GDD, but not on the specific day, which is a Sunday and not ideal for our campus. The international organizers believe that GDD is a framework that we can use with the end goal of spreading good. For GDD at Mason we organize a student leadership committee to promote a positive messaging social media campaign in support of GDD and to organize a Doing Good Fair which engaged over 2000 participants last year, including 150 volunteers and 30 student organizations.
Our Doing Good Fair empowers student organizations, university departments, community organizations, and individual volunteers to share their causes of choice with a wider audience. Organizations like AEPi organize a Gift of Life bone marrow registry drive, Hillel students educate their peers regarding the importance of being an organ donor. Fraternities and sororities talk about their organizations' philanthropies to educate their peers about their causes of choice. Individual volunteers help by encouraging students to write positive messages on the sidewalk with chalk or give out stickers to brighten their day. There is a role for everyone who wants to participate in this day of doing good.
The benefits to participating have been significant for all partners involved in the initiative. Mason Hillel received resources to engage students at a deep level through community organizing and on a mass level bringing the entire community together. We add value to the university which is an essential long term strategy to our ongoing success. George Mason University gets to promote their value of being a Well-Being University in a physical manifestation. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington gets to help expand its role in engaging the entire region with this day of doing good. It is this mutual benefit to all partners that have led to our success.
Good Deeds Day 2016 will take place on April 10 and we aspire to increase the number of participating Hillel Centers, fostering a dynamic, young, Jewish community worldwide with Hillel students and professionals, spreading goodness in our surroundings.
Register your Hillel today! For more information about how to get involved in Good Deeds Day, please contact Boyanna Grubeshich.
Ross Diamond is the executive director of George Mason Hillel. Boyanna Grubeshich is the program director of Hillel at Tel Aviv University.