Justin Daniels stands with a Challenge participant who was nominated by her co-workers to receive a pair of AfterShokz Headphones. To learn more about the “Change a Life Challenge,”or to nominate someone, please visit Daniels on his public Facebook page at “Justin Daniels.”

A Challenge for All Seasons

UNION CITY, Ind.— Before there was Netflix, Hulu or YouTube, I remember watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on traditional primetime CBS. As a child in the 70’s, I recall seeing Charlie Brown pick out a “less-than-perfect” pine tree (much to the dismay of Lucy and rest of the Peanuts gang), followed by Linus reciting the Christmas story verbatim from the Gospel of Luke. When finishing the story, Linus reminds Charlie Brown (and us, the viewers) about the true meaning of Christmas – to see beyond the ornaments, tinsel, and lights, and share the simple gifts of love and kindness.

A positive word, a friendly wave, greeting, smile, or a caring gesture can change someone’s life for the better –especially during the holiday season. One local coach has made it his mission to help as many people as he can with the “simple gifts” of kindness, patience, and a little pocket change.

Justin Daniels, a Union City Community High School alum (2000) and Head Coach for Track/Cross Country at the school, started the “Change a Life Challenge” in August 2020, after seeing people going through tough times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In 2020, all of the races that I had planned to run were cancelled,” said Daniels. “I hate sitting around not doing anything, so while watching TikTok, I saw a girl in Nashville, Tennessee, raising money for servers. So, I figured I would try it and see how well it would work in our area, and it took off.”

Using his social media, Daniels challenged friends and viewers to donate at least 50 cents (less than a cup of coffee) to help people in the community smile by providing groceries, rent, sharing Christmas cards and gifts, or sometimes, leaving a larger tip to make someone’s day a little brighter –just to name a few ways.

Since August 2020, Daniels has raised and given away $21,674. to 52 different people in both Ohio and Indiana counties, including Darke, Randolph, Wayne, Delaware, Henry and Jay. Through his Facebook page, Daniels receives information and tips about people in need, and highlights a new recipient each week. As a result of these posts, people from across the USA have joined in to support the Challenge by donating.

“My goal for 2022 is simple. Continue to help the people in need in the area with donations from people they don’t know to show them that everyone cares,” said Daniels, adding, “And also to make people aware that a donation of 50 cents can turn into something life changing when everyone does it together.”

Want to learn more about the “Change a Life Challenge” and this week’s nominees? Just visit Daniels on his open-to-the-public Facebook page at “Justin Daniels.” To follow and support the Challenge, donors may use Venmo @Justind2000, CashApp @justind20002020, or Facebook Pay www.facebook.com/justin.daniels.50

To view Linus’ Christmas Speech on YouTube, visit https://youtu.be/OJ8qjdxxzzE

Justin-Daniels-with-Challenge-receipient-2021
Justin Daniels stands with a Challenge participant who was nominated by her co-workers to receive a pair of AfterShokz Headphones. To learn more about the “Change a Life Challenge,”or to nominate someone, please visit Daniels on his public Facebook page at “Justin Daniels.”
Head Coach of Track and Cross Country at Union City High School and Class of 2000 alum, Justin Daniels (top left) started the “Change a Life Challenge” in August 2020, to help those who were struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the Challenge has raised over $21K to help 52 recipients in both Ohio and Indiana.
Head Coach of Track and Cross Country at Union City High School and Class of 2000 alum, Justin Daniels (top left) started the “Change a Life Challenge” in August 2020, to help those who were struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the Challenge has raised over $21K to help 52 recipients in both Ohio and Indiana.
Finishing the Chicago Marathon in 2021, Justin Daniels continues to encourage others through his Change a Life Challenge. Each week, friends and donors are asked to consider giving 50 cents (or more) — less than the cost of a cup of coffee -- to help a local community member in need.
Finishing the Chicago Marathon in 2021, Justin Daniels continues to encourage others through his Change a Life Challenge. Each week, friends and donors are asked to consider giving 50 cents (or more) — less than the cost of a cup of coffee -- to help a local community member in need.

Carol Marsh / Correspondent

Carol Marsh is a human interest/features writer who enjoys telling the stories of Darke County's people, places, and events, both past and present. She enjoys music, scrapbooking, reading Jane Austen, loves cooking (almost as much as scrapbooking) and is a homeschool mom of two.

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