MIAMI COUNTY — Money might not grow on trees, but these days it isn’t too unlikely to find it there.
You might find an envelope full of money or prizes in a downtown flower pot, under the bleachers at a high school football game, or at your local library. Or you might be watching a parade go by when a man in a gorilla suit hands you a gift.
If it happens to you, congratulations — you’ve been gooned.
They call themselves The GOON Brothers, a group of three anonymous Tipp City natives who are on a mission to spread a little generosity and encourage others to do the same.
“We’re not wealthy people, we just think there’s a lot of power in giving,” said one of the group’s co-founders, who identified himself as Goon One. GOON originally stood for Giving Open Offerings Now, but it’s also a term of endearment between the longtime friends.”We can make this world a better place one simple gift at a time.”
It all started late last year, when three friends who understood the boredom that sometimes comes with living in a small town decided to do something about it.
“Working with students so closely, we’ve realized that our problem of boredom is a problem they still deal with today, and that can often lead our teenagers to get into some situations that aren’t always the best,” Goon One said. All three founders have day jobs working with area youth. “Instead of standing on the sidelines, or getting frustrated with our kids, we decided it was time to do something about it.”
So they started organizing scavenger hunts, hiding money, gift cards, or event tickets around town and dropping location hints on social media.
In the time they’ve been active, they’ve hit nearly every town in Miami County and a few in surrounding counties, giving away more than $4,000.
Keeping their identities secret is part of the fun, but it also takes the focus off of them as individuals, Goon One said. And it doesn’t hurt that it makes hiding prizes much easier when nobody knows what they look like, he added.
“As much fun as we have doing this we’re not the focus. We love others through giving because Christ first loved us. This is about sharing his love with the world, and the memorable gift of generosity with our local communities,” he said. “If we make this about us, then we lose sight of what’s important.”
The GOON Brothers have received donations from local businesses, organizations, and individuals, but much of the money comes out of their own pockets.
“The three of us set aside money out of our monthly budgets to give to the cause,” Goon One said. The members see this giving as a sort of tithe, he added.
While the giveaways started in Tipp City, in recent months the Brothers have been trying to expand their mission to surrounding towns, including Piqua, West Milton and Vandalia.
They’ve also been working with groups at Tippecanoe Middle School and High School, Next Generation and Big Red, helping them organize their own giveaways and random acts of kindness.
“We do what we do to give kids and families something positive to do, but more than that we want to encourage other people to give,” Goon One said. “Our kids have grasped this concept and are leading the way when it comes to making a difference in the community.”
They’ve also taken the first steps to becoming an official 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
“We’re hoping this will help people realize that although we’re three goofy guys with a crazy idea we’ve got an important and legitimate mission to carry out,” Goon One explained. “This will hopefully also make it easier for people to donate to our cause.”
As this endeavor grows, The GOON Brothers biggest goal is to keep giving and keep inspiring others to give — though they wouldn’t mind appearing on Ellen, Goon One added.
To learn more about the Brothers and to get the latest details on their scavenger hunts, find them on Facebook as The GOON Brothers, on Twitter @GOONBros, and on Instagram @g.o.o.n._brothers.
You can also drop them a line at P.O. Box 841, Tipp City, OH 45371.
Reach Cecilia Fox at [email protected]