Have fun and save the world with GISHWHES

Jenny Huggins
Staff Writer

If you like to have fun, be a little weird and help out worthy causes, you need to know about "The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen." also known as GISHWHES.
The scavenger hunt is a week-long extravaganza that brings people from all over the world together to participate in random activities, some of kindness and generosity, some just plain silly, in which they earn points for their team and give back to their community, with local Poteau residents set to participate.

Registration ends Friday and for every registration received the organization will buy an acre of forest in Nepal to protect the ecosystem. According to Misha Collins, "Supernatural" television show star and founder of GISHWHES' stated goal is to secure 20,000 acres to protect thousands of animals against poaching. "We're literally saving thousands of thousands of tiny, amazing lives together," Collins said.
This year GISHWHES is held Aug. 5-12 and Poteau has at least one local team that can have up to 15 members. Heath Bates, co-owner of the Angry Mullet, and his wife, Chelsea, participated last year and had so much fun that they decided to do it again. The local team, "feste'shenchmen," currently has five members from the Angry Mullet and Poteau Daily News and they hope to add 10 more people from the area to complete a totally local team. If the 15 members aren't reached, individuals from around the world will be placed in the remaining spots.

What do you have to do to participate?
Having fun and helping your community are the main goals. However, according to gishwhes.com, "When we post the list on Aug. 5, your team would divvy up and accomplish these tasks (we call them 'items') over the course of one week. They include making incredible crazy art, performing crazy acts and partaking in heart-warming community service projects. Once you complete a task you either photograph or video it (we tell you which on the item list) and upload a link to it on our site. You receive 'points' for every item you accomplish. The team with the most points by the end of the week gets to join the Founder of the Hunt, actor Misha Collins, to some exotic location for an all expenses paid trip."

According to the GISHWHES website, "Many of the participants claim the Hunt is a life-changing experience that either pulled them out of their shell and completely changed their lives, or drove them insane … many others say it’s simply a great way to spend a week of their summer (or winter for those Gishers on the other half of the planet)."

Over the years, participants have raised more than $400,000 for charities, completed more than 400,000 random acts of kindness, posted 108,000 photo of hugs worldwide in one week, executed 3,434 senior care facility visits, had 2,872 food kitchen volunteers, made 954 donations to women's shelters, created 2,038 blood donors, 842 bone marrow donors, cleaned 456 beaches and held 1,473 coat drives.

Even if you don't have a weird or creative side, you can still help out the cause. You can give a scholarship to someone who wants to participate by going to gishwhes.com or, if you are approached by someone in the beginning of August who says they need you for their GISHWHES task, just smile and take the picture. Helping people through random acts of kindness and creativity to make the world a better place is why the scavenger hunt was founded in the first place and this year, LeFlore County will be able to say that they did their part.

If you would like to join or want more information, email reporter2.pdn@gmail.com. As Collins says, "It will never be the perfect moment to do something this fun and crazy, so dive in face/feet/(add you own body part) first."