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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Acts of kindness

Jake Castrejon works with fellow students during last year's Kindness Campaign // Courtesy of Jake Castrejon
Jake Castrejon works with fellow students during last year’s Kindness Campaign // Courtesy of Jake Castrejon

Red Square will soon be a demolition site. Not to break down structures, but to initiate forgiveness. Western’s campus is invited to write down personal resentments and destroy them by scribbling, stomping, cutting and shredding the paper.

The event is part of the Kindness Campaign, a series of events hosted by Western’s service leaders and will take place from Monday, April 25 through Friday, April 29. The service leaders who will be running the booths are a group of students selected by the Center for Service Learning based on their leadership skills and community service.

“We are setting up this booth to destroy your own grudges, whatever is holding you back, whatever you need to forgive,” sophomore and service leader mentor Jake Castrejon said.

Each day will come with its own set of activities, each booth being set up in Red Square. This is the second year the group will dedicate a week to kindness on campus, Castrejon said.

“Seeing the impact of what this event can really do, and keeping it going, is what I’m looking forward to.” 

Sophomore and service leader mentor Jake Castrejon

The service leaders will be paired with different clubs each day who will help with the campaign, Castrejon said. Participating clubs have not yet been chosen, he said.

Each day of the week will have a different theme. On Monday, self-love will be the topic, followed by encouragement on Tuesday, forgiveness on Wednesday, appreciation on Thursday and overall kindness on Friday.

To relay the message of kindness, service leaders and participants plan on making sock monkeys as gifts for the foster children of Bellingham, he said.

As for physical representations of kindness on campus, small notes of inspiration, or “kindness cubes,” will be spread around Western once again in this year’s campaign, Castrejon said.

“I think it was fall quarter this year: I saw one of those cubes pop up somewhere, and I was like, ‘See! These are still being spread around,’” Castrejon said. “Seeing the impact of what this event can really do, and keeping it going, is what I’m looking forward to.” 

Freshmen Amanda Mills and Miranda Cornelius are service leaders participating in appreciation day on Thursday, April 28, by helping people fill out thank you notes. Anyone can stop by to write a letter for others on campus, Mills said. The group will also write appreciation notes to resident advisers and janitorial staff, she said.

"Kindness Cubes" covered campus during last year's Kindness Campaign // Courtesy of Jake Castrejon
“Kindness Cubes” covered campus during last year’s Kindness Campaign // Courtesy of Jake Castrejon

Mills and other service leaders were asked to join the program because of work they did in high school. Mills helped clean her school’s campus, participated in canned food drives and painted props for school plays.

“I hope that people understand not to mistake kindness for weakness.”

Freshman Miranda Cornelius

The service leaders program works through the Center for Service Learning and teaches students how to lead through servant leadership in community service.

“That’s a big reason we’re part of the Center for Service Learning,” Castrejon said.

Cornelius is in the program because helping others is something she is passionate about.  Service leaders like herself can often be found doing community service off campus, she said.

“We helped recently at the [multiple sclerosis] walk, which was really inspiring,” Cornelius said.  “It was like Relay for Life but for MS, and you just walked to support.”

There’s one misconception Cornelius does not want people to take from the event.

“I hope that people understand not to mistake kindness for weakness,” she said. “I just think it’s a big misconception that kindness is weakness.”

Recognizing and appreciating the work of others is another lesson Castrejon wants people to remember after the kindness campaign is over, he said.

“It’s important, especially as the year goes on and you’re ready for summer break, just to keep in mind that yes, class is stressful, but the little things around you is what gets you through it,” Castrejon said.  “Spreading kindness to the hearts of others and having it spread on yourself is really important.”

Mills hopes people think more about showing appreciation for others year-round, not only during the campaign, she said.

“Stop on by if there are tables set up, come say ‘hi’ and see what’s happening,” Cornelius said. “Don’t be afraid because we’re just being kind.”

Courtesy1

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