The (309) area code stretches from Dewitt to Woodford counties, with 18 other counties in-between, including McDonough County, covering an astounding 9,486 square miles. And on March 9 (or 3-09), a Macomb councilwoman wants to get the people in the (309) range – and beyond – into the habit of paying it forward.
While Random Acts of Kindness Week just occurred Feb. 17, Macomb City Council Alderperson Tammie Leigh Brown-Edwards was brainstorming some ways to get the residents of her community, and county, to think of small ways they can make a difference.
"From feeding a quarter into a person's expired parking meter and leaving change for the next person’s purchase to paying book fines at your local library and donating nail polish to senior retirement centers or pillows and suitcases to transitional shelters. It doesn't have to be a large gesture. A small, considerate act may just make someone's day when they most need it," Brown-Edwards said.
Macomb School District Board of Education member Jim LaPrad says although some schools in the 309 area code are observing Spring Break on March 9 he hopes students spread kindness wherever their travels may take them.
“Kindness in education goes hand and hand. Kindness, like education, doesn't stop at the schoolhouse door,” LaPrad said. “Smiling at people teaches the best lesson: that you're human and you matter. You can carry that all day long because you're human, you matter and we need you with us. We are a better planet because you’re on it and with us in the community.”
Brown-Edwards came up with "(309) on 3-09," as a way to bring a little brightness into the lives of others. As she noted, "I kept thinking of something like '3-Oh, that was so nice-9'!”
“Oh, what a great day to promote the positives in the Macomb area,” said Marketing Director of the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce Shay Holland. “We are all busy, so go ahead and hold the door open for the person behind you, give them a hello and wish them a good day.”
Brown Edwards encourages (309) residents to mark their calendar for March 9, and set out that day with good intentions.
“We are very fortunate to live in McDonough County where kind things happen everyday,” McDonough County Clerk Gretchen DeJaynes. “So, to make a special day for people to take a moment to do an act of kindness, is a great day.”
"It's easy to be kind. And it doesn't have to be a grand, public gesture," Brown-Edwards added. "I hope everyone joins me to make (309) Day on March 9 a thing to continue each and every day."
"A kind gesture, be it on Random Acts of Kindness Day in February or March 9 – '(309) Day' – should really be something each of us does on a regular basis just for the good of our fellow citizens," she said.
Mike Kirby, McDonough County Board member from District 1, said, “Everyone wins when we are kind to each other – let’s make McDonough County kinder this March 9 – find a neighbor, and make our county a better place to be!"
The Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, located at 201 S. Lafayette St., have (309) shirts and hats available for purchase. For more information visit, https://www.visitforgottonia.com/product/309-t-shirt-copy/