In 2007, Dr. Andrew Baker, assistant professor of Bible, asked a group of high school students what they believed was the no. 1 problem in their school. Baker had the group present this problem along with a solution.
“We have plenty of talking heads in our country. We need people who are going to do something,” Baker said. “Let’s be known for the problems we solve, not for the problems we create.”
The group stood at the front of the class and discussed the amount of discouragement people face at school, at home and in the media. The group met the night before to plan a campaign, and then they decided on a date, Sept. 12.
“They chose Sept. 12 because we all know the feelings of Sept. 11, and we know what it felt like to be in this country on Sept. 12,” Baker said.
One thing led to another, and later that year, the White House, the state of Arkansas and the U.S. Senate signed off to recognize Sept. 12 as the National Day of Encouragement.
Baker said the National Day of Encouragement is still the same, a day focusing on encouragement. Some years, guests come to Harding to celebrate the event, and other years are not as extravagant. The hope is that people seek to encourage and to be encouraged.
“Encouragement is in everyone’s DNA, the ability to encourage and the ability to be encouraged,” Baker said.
This year, Chick-fil-A is launching a national and local campaign to accompany the holiday. On the national level, everyone who makes a purchase through the Chick-fil-A app will receive a free eight-count chicken nuggets, but White County will receive an extra bonus.
Matthew Harbin, restaurant operator of the Searcy branch of Chick-fil-A, said he brainstormed with Baker to create a program that takes a percentage of sales that are made through the Chick-fil-A app for the rest of the month, and the money will provide a free catered meal for each of the foster children of White County.
“Folks can eat more chicken and support the families in White County in their backyard,” Harbin said.
K-Love and DaySpring Cards also partnered to make National Day of Encouragement even bigger than the years before.
Kim Marquette, board director of DaySpring Cards, said they wanted to get involved even more this year to share how easy it is to encourage others.
“The hope for DaySpring taking part in the National Day of Encouragement and extending the mission through the DaySpring Care Dare is to share easy ideas of ways to encourage one another and show you care,” Marquette said.
DaySpring and K-Love are working together on a digital campaign named #DaySpringCareDare that will be on all of their social media platforms from Sept. 12 to Oct. 12. The campaign encourages people to follow the company social media accounts or sign up for a daily email blast with prayers, devotions and challenges to show encouragement. According to the campaign, DaySpring plans to donate a card to prison ministry every time someone uses the hashtag.
“Everything that we do comes from the core mission to see every person experience and express the life-changing message of God’s love,” said Melissa Pankey, associate consumer insights manager of DaySpring Cards. “The National Day of encouragement marks an important day for people to take time to encourage and care for others in a deeply discouraged world.”