By Lofton Wheeles
For the Opelika Observer
BigHouse Foundation currently has two opportunities open for the community to help local families — the BigHouse Hustle and the swimsuit and towel drive.
The BigHouse Hustle fundraiser was started last year and is the brainchild of BigHouse Foundation Executive Director Micah Melnick and a friend.
Due to the shutdown period of the pandemic, Melnick was searching for a way to stay motivated. She then posted on social media about an idea she had during that period — walking 100 miles in one month. A friend, who is also on the board of directors for BigHouse, decided to join her and at the end of the month, they were inspired to start the BigHouse Hustle.
The Hustle challenges people in the community to run or walk either 31, 65 or 100 miles in one month. Registration is currently open, and it costs $35 to register and includes a T-shirt.
The idea “blew up overnight,” Melnick said. The initial goal for the first Hustle was 30 friends raising $500; however, 550 people signed up for the fundraiser and it raised $23,000 for the organization for that month alone.
“We’ve done [the Hustle] twice now, so it’ll be our third time,” she said. “So, it’s been one of those things that just hit at the right time and it was something people needed to do. So, people got really excited about it and we feel like [we] can continue to make it grow and a lot of people who’ve done it in the past are going to do it again and hopefully will recruit new people too. So, we’re excited to try to get more people pulled in
The BigHouse Hustle has given the nonprofit organization a new opportunity to spread awareness about BigHouse and its mission.
“We’re grateful to have the Hustle, and we hope that we’re able to raise a good bit of money for BigHouse,” Melnick said. “In addition to that, I think it gets people talking about BigHouse, which is always a good thing for a nonprofit. For other people to hear your mission, to learn more about you, to be more of a household name and just to get our mission out there to people who otherwise may not be in our circle is really great.
“We’re just excited and it’s a really great opportunity for us to get our ministry and what we do out there to new groups of people and pull them in.”
BigHouse hopes the fundraiser gives members of the community an opportunity to get out, be active and be healthy. The community aspect is also a vital aspect to BigHouse and it is something that Melnick loves about organizing this fundraiser.
“I think my favorite part is seeing who signs up,” she said. “Just seeing the different kinds of people that sign up and people in our life who are excited about it, talking to people who have participated, seeing who’s doing it and then hearing their feedback saying they loved it and it was so encouraging to them. That’s really fun to see even if I didn’t have any idea that they knew about it.”
BigHouse not only wants people to get out and do the hustle to raise money for the nonprofit, but the organization also wants people to donate swimsuits and towels so kids can soak up the sun this summer.
BigHouse currently runs a clothes closet where families can shop for free each month for any child in their home whether it be for a foster child, adopted child or birth child. For the swimsuit and towel drive, families can donate new children’s swimsuits and beach or bath towels. This drive in particular has helped as many 2000 children in a year.
“With our swimsuit and towel drive, it is actually through social workers all across the state,” Melnick said. “So, they send us a list of the kids on their case load and it’ll be newborn to 18 year olds so we take all towels and every kid gets a towel and our kids that are in children-sized swimsuits get a swimsuit.
“All the towels are embroidered with their name. So for that drive, we collect new beach towels or fun-colored bath towels and new children’s swimsuits sizes newborn, child or XL. So, that’s going on through the end of April and into May. We will continue to take donations so if people don’t get them in by the end of April, we just put a deadline for promotional purposes.”
The deadline for both fundraisers is May 1. To register for the BigHouse Hustle, go to www.ourbighouse.org/bighouse-hustle.
For more ways to get involved with the BigHouse Foundation or for more information on the Hustle or the swimsuit and towel drive, head over to their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/bighousefoundation or send them an email firstname.lastname@example.org.