By Elizabeth Van Pilsum, Staff Writer
The week of Nov. 14-18 was a special one at Saint Vincent College, because the whole school celebrated kindness. The Kindness Campaign was started by the Fred Rogers Institute last year, with a goal of celebrating all forms of kindness both on and off campus. Last year, the Campaign was a month long, with a wide variety of events for students, but this year, the Fred Rogers Institute shortened the Campaign to a week. The goal with a shorter Kindness Campaign is to make the events and activities for students more intentional, to encourage kindness beyond the surface-level.
Sarah Goehring, Program Associate at the Fred Rogers Institute, has been involved with the Fred Rogers Scholars since she was an undergraduate at SVC, and she continued to work with the Institute during and after her pursuit of her master’s degree. Goehring has been leading the Kindness Campaign and coordinating events, getting the Fred Rogers Scholars involved in the planning of activities.
“We rely on the help of our students in the Fred Rogers Scholars program for the Kindness Campaign to be successful,” Goehring said. “The students help in the planning of the events, and they take the lead in running the events throughout the week. They are instrumental to the Kindness Campaign!”
Throughout the week, students participating in the Kindness Campaign experienced a variety of activities. The Campaign started on Monday, Nov. 14, with students packing go-bags for victims of domestic violence living in shelters. Then, that evening, they attended a dinner in the Fred Rogers Center where they heard a talk on domestic violence.
The next day, the Institute partnered with Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD) and hosted two tables in the Carey Center. One table was for students to decorate pins they could give to their friends to spread joy. The other was to decorate Christmas gift bags for senior citizens through Laurel Faith in Action, a local organization that works to meet the basic needs of seniors and address the loneliness and isolation that they may experience, so that they can continue living in their homes. Tuesday evening also saw Mindfulness Yoga in Upper St. Scholastica. Students did 40 minutes of yoga followed by 15 minutes of mediation, led by a professional yoga instructor.
On Wednesday, students gathered in the Carey Center to paint tiles, which will be hung up in the window of the bookstore to create a mosaic to help spread cheer across campus. That evening, the Fred Rogers Scholars worked together with members of the Activities Programming Board (APB) to throw a Casino Night, which drew a large crowd of students seeking the fun and games.
Thursday events included Donation Bingo, where students stopped by the Carey Center to pick up a Kindness Bingo card. The card contained a variety of donation items that the students then had to bring back to Carey to donate to multiple local organizations. Students who turned in the donations and completed a bingo card were entered into a raffle for a prize basket. Another way the campus celebrated kindness that day was through attendance of Founder’s Day festivities, including a free Thanksgiving dinner and fireworks.
Kindness Campaign drew to a close on Friday with a thank-you note-writing station in the afternoon and a movie night and pretzel bar in the evening.
Overall, the Fred Rogers Institute saw a positive reaction to their week-long Kindness Campaign. Gina Beneccio, sophomore early education major and Fred Rogers Scholar, participated in many of the events and saw the Campaign as exciting and important.
“I think the campaign is important because it continues Fred’s legacy,” Beneccio said. “For Fred, kindness wasn’t just about being nice to people. Kindness was about understanding the actual person. I hope that this year’s campaign brings together the community of Saint Vincent College to understand their peers on a more personal level, while continuing Fred’s legacy.”