If you see a painted rock lying about, take an extra moment to examine it. The owners of Masked Birthday Bandits have scattered 30 of Daisye Orr’s practically famous kindness keepsakes all across Thurston County. The lucky individuals who spot one can take a photo of the rock and submit it on the Masked Birthday Bandits website. The reward for these eagle eyes will be a Little Joy Package that will festoon your home. It’s all about spreading joy.

The Masked Birthday Bandits spread joy throughout Thurston County because they wanted to encourage hope and connections. Photo courtesy: Masked Birthday Bandits

Masked Birthday Bandits was born when friends, Melissa Oiland and Katie McMurray, decided to celebrate their friend’s birthday within the early parameters of the pandemic quarantine. Under cover of early morning, they hung streamers and placed festive balloons around the front door and in the yard. Everyone loved it. Instead of sitting on their laurels and basking in their glory, the duo offered their uplifting decorating services to friends and family. The cheer spread. Before long, bandits were working many early mornings and many late nights to keep up with demand.

The Masked Birthday Bandits spread joy throughout Thurston County because they wanted to encourage hope and connections. Photo courtesy: Masked Birthday Bandits
Soon their friend Daisye joined, adding her artistic talents both with set design and memento rocks. During this initial launch all costs for planning, materials and set-up were absorbed by the bandits. Everything was at no charge These wonderful antics were in addition to Melissa, Katie and Daisye’s already full lives with family and work. As restrictions eased during the summer, the Masked Birthday Bandits quietly retired. It seemed the doors to spreading joy were closed.

However, in less than two weeks, the trio came to a decision point. “Something is missing,” notes Katie, who in all her texts and conversations with Melissa and Daisye confirmed the three agreed. “I love spreading joy and seeing people’s reactions,” says Melissa. They resumed conversations about starting Masked Birthday Bandits as an actual business. The wheels started turning full speed and the doors reopened at the beginning of September.

The women find they inspire each other. “I’m the artistic consultant, often sending wacky texts in the night,” says Daisye. “It’s very different than my job and it fills my heart.” The website is up, offering all sorts of possibilities.

With Halloween right around the corner, check out the BOO! Lifting Spirits package. The ghosts, spider webbing and solar pumpkins that glow in the dark will chase away the blues at your house or a friend’s. You’ll get a Halloween sign as well as a hand-painted rock at your front door. If you like, four fabulous ghost cake pops from Gotti Sweets can be part of the deal. Pick either pumpkin spice or chocolate. The decorations will stay up for 48 hours and then just as mysteriously as they arrived, they will disappear (except for the cupcakes and decorative rock, which are yours.)

The Masked Birthday Bandits spread joy throughout Thurston County because they wanted to encourage hope and connections. Photo courtesy: Masked Birthday Bandits
Take a look at the birthday options. Getting fresh ideas and help would be great for your next celebration. Masked Birthday Bandits will come to decorate the property of your choice with appropriate décor. They will also return to pick up the signs. Other themes are for appreciation and cheer. It’s not going out on a limb to say we all can use an extra bit of feel-good in our lives.

Are you wishing you could have the Bandits visit someone who lives out of our area? Masked Birthday Bandits have come up with a great solution for all those who don’t live around Olympia. It’s the Bandit Box, which will be mailed with all the ingredients needed to become a bandit: pinwheels, balloons, waterproof pendants banners, streamers, signs, a valuable mask and instructions! What child, grandchild or parent wouldn’t get a kick out of that?!

The mission of Masked Birthday Bandits is spreading joy. “We brought ourselves joy and it uplifted us in the chaos,” says Katie. They know finances are a concern for many, so they are giving away one package a month. You can nominate someone on the website. If your selection is not picked, it will roll over for the next month. What a sweet way to remind someone they are loved and that they make the world a better place. Melissa encourages local groups to call her about coordinating fundraising activities with them.

And don’t forget to look for those hidden rocks! Before you head out on your rock hunting adventures, you peruse the Facebook page and Instagram for clues.

Halloween will come and go, but seasonal celebrations will continue through the year. We can all use ways to lighten our loads. A visit from the Masked Birthday Bandits would be welcomed by many – think about your teachers, who could certainly use a pick-me-up. I’m sure you know others. Thurston County is a better, more joyful place with Masked Birthday Bandits.