MECOSTA, OSCEOLA COUNTIES — In an effort to spread more cheer, the Mecosta/Osceola Community Resource Group began a Community Kindness Initiative, and everyone's encouraged to participate.

“Anyone and everyone can be a part of this,” Three Girls Bakery owner Paula Beilfuss said. “You can hold the door open for somebody, your kids can help somebody across the street, they can help somebody at school, etc. Just do something nice."

Inspired by a news story about a coffee shop in Indiana, Community Resource Group member John Klever decided to bring a similar concept to Mecosta and Osceola counties.

"Basically, they offered free cups of coffee for various acts of charity in the community," Klever said. "I thought, 'That would be a cool concept to bring here.'"

After some discussion with the Community Resource Group — an organization which meets once a month and is attended by various agencies, faith-based organizations and individuals from the community — they thought, "Why not approach local businesses and see who might be on board?"

"Spreading goodwill in the community — you can always use more of that," Klever said, noting his own personal experience of what a good deed can do. "One day, I was having a really bad day and someone paid for my lunch ahead of me, and it changed my mindset. It turned my whole day around."

Trying to put this initiative into motion, Community Resource Group members began contacting local businesses, pitching the idea of rewarding good behavior.

Three Girls Bakery, according to Beilfuss and Klever, was one of the first businesses to jump on board.

"We decided to do it because it’s the thing to do,” Beilfuss said. "People often do so many kind things, and you don’t need to be rewarded for it, but sometimes it’s just nice. We should all be kind."

Though some places require the do-gooders to snap a photo of their good deed, Three Girls Bakery just requires honesty and to tell them about it.

In return, the bakery offers individuals a free cookie.

According to Beilfuss, any good deed will do, whether it's raking leaves for a neighbor, shoveling snow or even donating blood.

"It's nice when kindness spreads," she said.

Businesses interested in taking part in this initiative, call contact Klever at (231) 796-4312.

Those interested in partaking, can simply do good.

"You can change someone's day by being kind to them," Klever said. "The more of that, the happier the community will be."