Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Power of Kindness

During the Month of January, I will feature stories of Kindness in honor of  The Great Kindness Challenge which takes place the last week of this month, January 26th-30th. 


I often think the power of kindness is underestimated. Say kind things, be nice to others...it seems pretty straightforward. How can something so simple have an impact on the things we say and do, or the way we think?

Kindness is more than just making people feel good. I believe that kindness connects us as human beings, and brings us closer to the people and communities around us.

Interestingly enough, research shows that giving to others promotes cooperation and social connection:

"When you give, you’re more likely to get back: Several studies, including work by sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, have suggested that when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line—sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else.
These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others—and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health. As researcher John Cacioppo writes in his book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, 'The more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection . . . the greater the advance toward health, wealth, and happiness.'”
"What’s more, when we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. 'Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,' writes Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness, and this 'fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.'”
From "5 Ways Giving is Good for You" - Greater Good: University of California, Berkeley 
During 5th Grade's month in the Kind Kids Club (October), students brainstormed ideas for an act of kindness that would benefit the community. Students had lots of ideas and were excited to help! The most common theme was helping the homeless. Around the same time, Kid President (You Tube personality and inspiration to kids everywhere) was launching his annual #Socktober campaign. I showed them Kid President's video and we agreed this would be our act of kindness for the community!



For the next few weeks, students brought in donations of new socks, blankets, travel-size toiletries, hats, gloves, and other items to benefit Loaves and Fishes, a non-profit organization serving homeless men, women, and children in Sacramento. Before Thanksgiving break, bins were collected and sorted.



Below are the donation totals below for 5th Grade's #Socktober. A big THANK YOU to 5th grade students and their families for their time and donations!

- 77 new pairs of socks!
- 59 hygiene items and toiletries!
- 10 new pairs of gloves
- 4 new hats
- 3 new blankets
- 1 new scarf
- 1 stuffed animal





Loaves and Fishes provides a large variety of services to meet the needs of homeless individuals and families in our community. These include advocacy, affordable housing, dog kennel services, a dining room open 7 days a week/364 days a year, a park/recreation area, mental health/counseling, a full-service library, legal services, a daytime shelter for women and children, laundry and shower services, a long-term overnight shelter for women, and a free private school for children 3-15 years of age.

 

These pictures show the donation warehouse, where I dropped off the Kind Kids Club socks and other items. Many employees working for Loaves and Fishes were once homeless themselves, or benefitted from the services of Loaves and Fishes at one point in their life. Loaves and Fishes also works with a number of volunteer organizations, and has many regular and long-term volunteers.
           

The Mustard Seed School is a special emergency school for children from preschool to Middle School. Mustard Seed School started in 1989 to help meet the needs of homeless children in the community. The School can serve up to 35 children and the average stay for most students is 3-4 weeks. Some children have been out of school for a long period of time and need help transitioning back. The Mustard Seed School works to prepare and re-enroll homeless children into public school when families have found housing stability. Since the school began, over 4,500 children have been students at Mustard Seed. Students at Mustard Seed school receive a safe, positive learning environment, food and clothing resources, medical and dental screenings, immunizations updates, and counseling for children and their parents. 

According to Loaves and Fishes, "Many school age children do not attend school because of their homelessness; some lack immunizations, birth certificates, or other documents, some are in transit, and almost all lack a support system...Many homeless children are not enrolled in school because the places their families find to sleep are often not located near a child's school and the family only plans to be there a short time. Sometimes the school needs an address or updated immunizations which homeless families cannot provide."

Loaves and Fishes accepts donations year-round and offers a 2-hour orientation for those interested in learning more about the organization and its history or hoping to volunteer in the future. Loaves and Fishes also has a volunteer program for students 14 years and older. 

I am so proud of all our students and their desire to help others in need. I hope they continue to help others and model the power of kindness. Currently our 4th grade students are planning an act of kindness for the community during their month in the Kind Kids Club. Recent ideas from students include a toy drive and donations for a local animal shelter. Looking forward to share this completed act of kindness in the near future!

If you have a story of kindness you'd like to share on the Counseling Corner Blog this month, please email me at: chines@natomascharter.org



If you would like to learn more about The Great Kindness Challenge or how to bring it to your school, please visit their website: http://www.greatkindnesschallenge.org/