KINDNESS Awareness Week
Feb. 10-16, 2021

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Senseless Kindness

'Senseless kindness' habit catches on in Bakersfield

by Elizabeth Barker

The Bakersfield Californian


Bakersfield College Professor Chuck Wall gives students A's just for being nice.

Students in Wall's human relations classes were told to commit a "random act of senseless kindness" and then write a report on it.

The homework assignment has since grown into a bumper sticker campaign aimed at building kinder, gentler communities in Bakersfield.

One student observed a needy mother and child at a supermarket, took them inside and bought them groceries. Another found a stray dog, took it home, gave it a bath, snapped its picture, tacked up posters and found its owner.

"Basically, our class operates on the principal that success - be it personal relations, at home or in the work place - depends on how you treat other people," Wall said.

Student Shane Gautreaux, a 28-year-old sophomore, recalls the day Wall gave the assignment.

"At first, we were all a little confused, but then he gave us an example and we saw that it didn't have to be something major, just something nice that wasn't part of your ordinary routine."

Gautreaux bought some blankets at the Salvation Army and took them to homeless children living under the Baker Street bridge.

"They just flock to you like pigeons," Gautreaux said. "Sometimes they are embarrassed, but they take what they can get."

Not everybody is as accepting of kindness, as 32-year-old accounting freshman Ben Howard discovered.

Howard's act of kindness was to buy breakfast for the person standing behind him at the BC cafeteria.

"He said, 'Why are you doing this?' and kind of gave me a weird look," Howard said. "So I explained it to him, but he still looked a little leery."

"I guess people aren't used to people doing something nice for them for no reason," Howard said. "They think you want something from them."

But the rewards outweigh any problems, he said, and Gautreaux agreed.

"It gives you a great feeling of self-satisfaction," she said. "It was one of those times when everybody handed in their homework."

Wall explained how the class assignment came about and grew.

"People see and hear about so many random acts of senseless violence, so we decided to put a positive twist on it," Wall said. "When we were talking about the assignment afterward, the idea for the bumper sticker came up and everyone liked it."

The 4x12-inch blue-and-white bumper stickers, which sell for $1, read, "Today I Will Commit One Random Act of Senseless KINDNESS ... Will You?"

San Joaquin Bank on 19th Street paid for the stickers. All proceeds go to the Braille Center.

The idea is catching on.

Jo Marshall, a 55-year-old business freshman, said that after she took stickers to her church, the congregation decided to participate.

Bumper stickers are available by calling Wall at 872-9555.

Reprinted with the permission of The Bakersfield Californian


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