For the past five years, the first week of August has meant more than another seven days of summer. For thousands of people around the world, August 1 commences the official beginning of the world’s largest scavenger hunt, also known as GISHWHES: The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, which began in 2011 and has had teams all over the world running from one ridiculous task to the next. From skydiving, hugging strangers, preforming puppet shows at children’s hospitals, to even posing in nothing but bacon, the list of 150 tasks range from silly and mischievous, to heartwarming random act of kindness. The mastermind behind the goofy madness? Bellingham’s Misha Collins.
Best known for his role in the sci-fi show Supernatural as the angel Castiel, this recent Bellingham resident founded GISHWHES in 2011. What began as a publicity stunt for Supernatural quickly became the mega successful and widely loved scavenger hunt, breaking eight different Guinness Book of World records (Largest Media Scavenger Hunt, Largest Chain of Safety Pins, Largest gathering of people dressed as French maids etc.) and reaching more than 100 countries.
They aim to have participants break free from their comfort zones and awaken an inner artist all by doing a bit of good in the world, according to the GISHWHES mission statement. Over the past five years, participants have performed more than 93,000 random acts of kindness and have fed thousands from the homeless community. Blanketed in silly, light-hearted fun, the core and purpose of Collins’ scavenger hunt is a mission to do good and break free from normalcy.
The TV superstar has not only been winning audiences over on-screen, he has also been earning the hearts of communities all over the world with his non-profit organization Random Acts. Beginning in 2009, Random Acts serves to inspire kindness and foster encouragement and support for people around the globe. Collins has spear – headed projects in Haiti and Nicaragua to construct schools and orphanage buildings. He also works locally partnering with organizations like Lydia’s Place and homeless outreach programs.
Collins moved to Bellingham two years ago for a shorter commute to the Vancouver Supernatural set, and for the chance to live in a small town with a big personality.
“We wanted to take the opportunity to live in a smaller city,” Collins said. “Bellingham is lovely. It is like a hidden magical gem on the coast.”
After years of city living, Collins and his family have been comfortably settling into the Bellingham community becoming well acquainted with local favorites like The Mount Bakery, Village Books, Old Town Café, and the Black Drop Coffee House.
Bellingham is home to thousands of Supernatural fans. The show is on its twelfth season, and just won another People’s Choice Award this past year, making a total of eight over the last seven years.
“It means the world to me,” Collins said. “It speaks volumes about our fandom by winning year after year.”