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How did OurKINDofStetson come to be?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional stress and anxiety for many Americans. Given the struggles of the past year, Stetson's Student Counseling Services wanted to do something special this year to encourage kindness at Stetson during Random Acts of Kindness Week, Feb. 14-20.

To try to help, the counseling center connected with Nora Huth, assistant director of Student Employment, and other partners on campus. With Huth coordinating, the group developed a special motto for the week: “Our KIND of Stetson with one goal: to make KINDness contagious across the university.”

"Studies have shown that as little as one act of KINDness a day can reduce your stress, anxiety and depression," said Leigh A. Baker, PhD, a licensed psychologist and director of Stetson's Student Counseling Services. "Both you and the person you’ve helped experience a sense of calm, connection and well-being related to the release of hormones."

"The key is in cultivating a daily practice of KINDness to feel better, help others and positively impact the community," Baker added.

Stetson senior Colleen Elizabeth McCarthy is helping to organize the activities and also is applying to start a student group to promote KINDness on campus. She said she learned about the power of KINDness as an eighth-grader growing up in Newtown, Connecticut.

The nonprofit group, Ben's Bells, came to town after 20 first graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

"They promote random acts of KINDness and their slogan is 'Be KIND,' which impacted my life greatly and I have tried to live in that way ever since," said McCarthy, a senior majoring in Communication and Media Studies.

She is an active student leader on campus, including serving as an Intramural Sports supervisor captain. She thinks students are faring quite well, given how much COVID-19 has impacted their lives.

"I think that the most interesting thing about students handling the pandemic has been the resilience that we have all shown," she said.

"Even though we can’t physically be together, one of the silver linings of this pandemic is that it has forced us to stop and take a look at how we are treating each other as human beings and thus showing us that we can do much more good in the world," she added.

Our KIND of Stetson is being funded by Campus Life and Student Success and donor support. Student Counseling Services is coordinating the activities with Student Employment, Human Resources and the Office of Development and Alumni Engagement, as well as students Sally Hornik and McCarthy.

"My goal is to show people that they have people who care for them, and that they are not alone,” McCarthy said. “KINDness is one of the most powerful tools that we can use to make our world a better place."