GREENFIELD — A $50,000 donation for the new football field at Greenfield-Central comes with a request from the donors to include a logo with religious undertones on the turf.
Five community members wishing to remain anonymous provided Greenfield-Central School Board members with an emblem reading #BlessTheWorld along with their promise to donate more than $50,000 — the fundraising amount leaders heading the roughly $820,000 turf project designated as the minimum donation required for a donor to receive space on the field for a 6-by-6 foot logo.
Locally, Park Chapel Christian Church in Greenfield has adopted #blesstheworld as the tagline for a pay-it-forward campaign; the congregation sets out to make a positive difference in the community by spreading goodwill. On social media sites and the church’s website, members share stories of their own kindness using #blesstheworld.
The donation to the high school’s turf project, however, isn’t from the church, the Rev. Danny Curry told the Daily Reporter, adding the phrase, “Bless the World,” isn’t used solely by his congregation.
Rather, it’s an online expression that celebrates giving back and making a positive impact in the world — a call to action not a creed, Curry said.
The group’s proposed donation and logo sparked discussion at a school board meeting this week, where board members wondered whether the word “bless” belongs on the public school’s field.
Superintendent Harold Olin had asked the board to accept the donation; approval is required for any gift of more than $1,000 made to the corporation. But board members hesitated, opting instead to hold off on making a decision until a future meeting.
Member Steve Menser said while he’s grateful for the contribution, he worries some people might take issue with the logo’s religious connotation.
During the board meeting, Menser read aloud this definition of blessed: “to ask God to look favorably on.”
He suggested the board seek legal advice about whether the word could stir up unnecessary controversy or result in legal problems for the district.
“I just feel like we’re going to open the door to a lawsuit I don’t know would be worth the $50,000,” he said.
Board member Hillary Close echoed those sentiments, saying she’s concerned about how the community would perceive the logo.
Board members agreed the gift is generous — one of the largest offered since fundraising efforts to offset the cost of installing a synthetic turf field were launched.
They talked for several minutes about the proposed donation, then tabled the matter for a future meeting. They are expected to discuss the issue again at their next meeting, slated for April 11, after Olin reaches out to the donors for more information.
It’s common for corporate donors to have their names placed on signage across the school campus as recognition of donations they’ve made, but the district doesn’t currently have a logo similar to what the group has proposed anywhere on corporation grounds, Olin said.
There are no rules listed about religious or political statements, etc., though the school board’s policy on gifts states members can reject gifts they deem inappropriate. Should the board accept donations, members should attempt to try to carry out the donor’s wishes, the policy states.
At the meeting, Olin discussed the parallels between the #blesstheworld movement and values the district already seeks to instill in its students. “The Cougar Way,” an informal motto the high school uses while making a nod to its mascot, touts characteristics including compassion, Olin said.
Curry, who is in touch with the donors, said they don’t want to have their names displayed on the field; they just want to help spread goodness in their community. The idea behind the #blesstheworld movement is to encourage random acts of kindness.
“Everyone can do this,” he said. “It’s about … loving your neighbor and making the world a better place.”