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Costa Mesa students try to make kindness ‘a universal thing’

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Caitlyn Roum and Aubrey Sicrent enthusiastically offer an event T-shirt to Denilson Lopez during Let’s Be Kind Day held Thursday at Costa Mesa Middle and High schools.
(Spencer Grant)

Students at Costa Mesa Middle and High schools celebrated the second annual Let’s Be Kind Day on Thursday as part of a campus campaign called “Feel the Love Festival Week” promoting relationships, respect and standing up to bullying.

The campaign is organized by the Costa Mesa High School Associated Student Body. This is the first year Let’s Be Kind Day has taken place on the high school campus at 2650 Fairview Road.

Costa Mesa High Principal Jake Haley said Let’s Be Kind Day serves as a reminder of “the fundamental elements we all learn in preschool and kindergarten, which is to treat each other nicely.”

“It’s an opportunity for students and staff to go out of their way to meet somebody new, provide a kind gesture for somebody else or simply to reflect on actions from the year and some new goals to move forward,” he said.

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Let’s Be Kind Day organizer Rebekah Robeck is a freshman at Costa Mesa High School.
(Spencer Grant)

Rebekah Robeck, a freshman at the high school, originally organized Let’s Be Kind Day when she was in eighth grade at the middle school. She said she used to be made fun of about things she said weren’t important. When she realized she wasn’t the only student experiencing that, she had the idea to organize Let’s Be Kind Day.

Rebekah said she wanted to “show that kindness is something that we need in … our school.”

“Kindness is really hard to find,” she said. “I feel like … the fact that someone’s just being like, ‘Hey, let’s be kind!’ and it’s something exciting.”

The event, held during lunch in the quads at both schools, included 2,100 T-shirts, music and a raffle with items, including a 24-inch television, a turntable and backpacks, donated by Target and Hurley. Chick-fil-A contributed coupons students could redeem for a free food item.

“I haven’t been at this school for a very long time, but I heard about it [Thursday] morning and it’s a very good concept and I support it 100%,” said Wilbur Hancock, 13. “For me, ‘Be kind’ is one of the best quotes ever, since it just shows that you care and spreading kindness all around is very good.”

Last year, Rebekah handed out 700 T-shirts, and her mother, Cristina Robeck, said organizing the event this year was more daunting because so many more shirts had to be made. Cristina designed the logo for Let’s Be Kind Day and helps organize it with her daughter.

“There’s a lot of hurt and there’s a lot of kids that are coming from … crazy households. So for us, if we can catch a kid here on campus … kindness can eliminate loneliness,” she said. “It can provide unity, even individuality. As kids are individuals and have unique gifts and talents and different ways of life, kindness actually [is] … a universal thing we can all do together.”

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A long table of Let’s Be Kind Day T-shirts draws a crowd of students Thursday at the Costa Mesa Middle School quad.
(Spencer Grant)

Rebekah said Costa Mesa Middle School Principal Jennifer Padilla was instrumental in Let’s Be Kind Day last year because “she really talked and persuaded people into wanting to do this.”

“[Rebekah] knows what it is like to be struggling and then shown kindness and she wants all of her friends to also know that and experience that,” Padilla said. “Her wanting to do that I thought was incredible. So, I was willing to do whatever I could to support [her] doing that.”

“To me as a principal, [Let’s Be Kind Day] means just reinforcing that showing kindness to one another and showing compassion and just reminding kids because they’re all going through something,” Padilla added. “Sometimes for all of us, it’s just the smallest thing to know somebody cares.”

Rebekah said she plans to continue Let’s Be Kind Day even after she graduates from Costa Mesa High.

The Robecks are establishing a nonprofit and hope to expand the event to other schools across the nation. Kaiser Elementary School in Costa Mesa also celebrated Let’s Be Kind Day on Thursday.

Several adult volunteers from Newport Mesa Church in Costa Mesa assisted with the event.

“We were excited to be a part of it,” said Jordan Hansen, lead pastor for the church. “Any time you see something like this come from a young person, it’s impossible not to want to help because it’s so positive and so good for society.”

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Katherine Escobar, Hanna Bijanjan and Monica Salgado don their Let’s Be Kind Day T-shirts Thursday.
(Spencer Grant)