To help in their endeavor to spread kindness at Walnut Elementary Education Center, students in Erin Moreno’s sixth grade class received a firsthand lesson Friday from someone who is trying to make the entire city of Turlock a kinder place—Mayor Gary Soiseth.
“I came here to hopefully inspire and encourage them to continue their acts of kindness, but I’ll tell you I came here and I was inspired and encouraged,” said Soiseth. “They’re only in sixth grade so the future of Turlock is very bright with kids like this.”
Soiseth adopted the Million Acts of Kindness campaign in February in hopes of transforming the city of Turlock into a friendlier, stronger and more welcoming community by encouraging residents of all ages to be kind to one another.
Soiseth was inspired to implement this initiative in Turlock as a result of his work in Afghanistan and visiting other communities halfway across the world, as well as the influence of Mayor Tom Tait from the City of Anaheim, who issued the same challenge to his community in order to make it a “kinder, more accepting, more tolerant place.”
Moreno said that she invited Soiseth to visit her class Friday to talk more about his Million Acts of Kindness initiative and share with her students why he thinks kindness is important.
“I just feel like in the world right now there is so much negativity and these kids are aware of that — they see it in the news, they hear their parents talking about it,” said Moreno. “I really want these kids to know they have the power to make a change in the world. They don’t have to have money necessarily or be someone of status, but that they in their little lives here on campus can make a difference.”
Sixth graders Annasophia Mota-Arellano and Hayden Elliott said prior to Soiseth’s visit, the class made posters that represent what it means to be kind—whether it’s befriending a new student at school, not laughing at someone when they fall down or helping out their family at home.
“I think as sixth graders here at Walnut, we have a really big role to spread kindness around Turlock and in our communities,” said Mota-Arellano.
“We’ve learned that not being kind can spread easily and if you are kind you can change someone’s day,” added Elliott.
During his visit, Soiseth shared with students his favorite act of kindness, which took place at the Turlock Animal Shelter. While touring the shelter, Soiseth was told that there just weren’t enough people adopting animals.
“They said people don’t see how great these cats and dogs are,” said Soiseth. “So I asked what I could do to help and she asked if I could take a picture with one of the dogs and put it on Facebook to see if we can find someone to adopt him.”
The dog in question had just passed the date when he was supposed be put to sleep. However, after Soiseth posted the photo on Facebook, a woman from New Mexico drove to Turlock to adopt the dog. Soiseth not only helped find an owner for the dog, but he also paid the adoption fees.
“When she came to get the dog, she was inspired so she also told the woman at the counter that she would do the same thing,” said Soiseth.
Moreno said her students will continue to spread kindness throughout their classroom and Walnut Elementary. She said that she hopes their efforts will soon expand into the greater Turlock community with students possibly singing Christmas carols at Brandel Manor or hosting a sock drive for Turlock Gospel Mission in the future.
“I just really hope that even though they know what to, they’ll follow through and they’ll see the results of their actions,” said Moreno. “They’ll see their power and know that they can make the world a better place.”