KINDNESS Awareness Week
Feb. 10-16, 2021

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Campaign Captures Public

Students' random kindness captures public's imagination

by Rick Bentley

Bakersfield's "Random acts of senseless kindness" campaign is getting international attention.

On the same day Bakersfield College professor Chuck Wall went in front of the television camera for the syndicated series "The Crusaders," his students were being informed of how attention for a homework assignment was coming from as far away as France and Belgium.

What had caught the fancy of the foreign press, made the front page of more than 150 newspapers in the United States, had been mentioned on network television shows such as "Good Morning America" and would be featured in approximately four weeks on "The Crusaders" started with a class assignment. Wall instructed students in his human relations class to commit a random act of kindness.

"I had 250 bumper stickers printed (that read "Today I Will Commit One Random Act of Senseless Kindness -- How About You?") and was certain that would be enough to last me for four semesters," Wall said. "I never dreamed this would get this kind of attention."

The Californian's front page story on the assignment was distributed around the country and the world by The Associated Press. Members of Wall's class discussed before the quot;Crusaders" cameras how friends, relatives and business associates from all corners of the country have been seeing reports of the "senseless" movement.

Mark Hyman, "The Crusaders" host, explained his staff had seen The Associated Press story and decided this would be a perfect story for the series. "The Crusaders" features stories of struggles and then provides some solutions. The fact that Wall's class had seen the negative of the world and was trying to create some ripple of change was enough to bring the crew over the Grapevine.

The television crew had scheduled two days of videotaping here. Besides the session with Wall's class Tuesday morning, footage was collected around the Bakersfield College campus. Today, the crew will be at West High School where the "kindness" trend has taken off with students. That will be followed by the videotaping of several of Wall's students committing acts of senseless kindness.

Working on such positive stories has been a nice change of pace for the "Crusaders" teams.

"Almost all of us came out of television news where we covered disasters. I was really getting tired of that," Hyman said. "The only hard part of this show was knowing it was OK to cross the line. While working on news, you aren't supposed to get involved. Here we do."

Hyman was convinced the 5 million to 10 million viewers who will see the show will help make this local homework assignment a national trend. As part of the structure of the show, "The Crusaders" will take the story to another area -- most likely a high school on the other side of the country -- to help fuel interest. There also will be a push to help find a sponsor to offset costs for printing the bumper stickers that are in such hot demand.

If Ray Rosecrans has his way, Rotary will be that sponsor. He has invited "The Crusaders" crew to today's Bakersfield West Rotary meeting where the organization's association with the project will be discussed.

"The Crusaders" airs at 4:30 p.m. Sundays on KERO-TV, Channel 23.

Reprinted with the permission of The Bakersfield Californian.

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