Canada
Each day of RAK week had a different theme. Monday - RAK for people from different countries. We made paper bricks and sold them for $0.25. The bricks were posted in the hallway. The theme was "buy a brick and build a better world." Tuesday was RAK for older people. We are partnered with The Parkridge Centre, an extended care home. We provided all the materials for the students to come in during lunch to make a valentine for each of the 240 residents of the care home. On Wednesday, RAK was for someone younger. Staff and students donated gently used children's books and stuffed animals. These went to neighboring elementary schools. Thursday RAK was for someone you know. The students were provided with materials to make a card or write a letter for someone they knew to express their love, appreciation, gratitude, etc. Friday RAK was for animals and the world. Students learned about global warming and wrote a pledge of a simple thing they could do to stop global warming. The pledges were written on paper polar bears, printed on used on one side white paper. They were then posted near a polar bear display.
United States
Students created Earth Day posters to express ways we can show care for our planet and to spread awareness of Earth Day. We discussed our ideas which inspired our concepts for our posters. We displayed our posters on the walls of our school.
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We recycle bottles, cans, and papers every Tuesdays to help reduce the amount of waste that recyclable materials take up on the dumping fields, streets, parks, and block storm drain inlets. We see many bottles, cans, and paper that can be recycled in our schools, homes and basically everywhere. We see that the materials can reduce the amount of resources that is greatly decreased by human usage everyday. It's also a good way to make money for the club. We wanted to teach our friends, family, teachers, and classmates about the importance of recycling and that small things such as those can help reduce pollution. We wanted for them to adopt the habit of recycling so they can pass it on to others. Our classmates are more understanding and respectful about the importance of recycling and they are willing to participate. They are also excited about participating in more events similar to this.
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We see every day on the way to school, home, or anywhere that there is a lot of trash or recyclable material that is being thrown on the streets. It's not only annoying walking on a sidewalk covered with trash but it's also dangerous, too, for younger kids who walk the same path. We decided that since no one cleans the streets, we should do it because it's our community and we want to make a change to keep it safe for our younger generation. We learned that graffiti and littering are connected and that when people actually see the effects that they produce because of the trash they just throw on the streets they start being aware of the problems and they stop littering as much. Even though the street is still being littered, bit by bit people are noticing and respecting the area they live in even more.
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Classrooms are supposed to be comfortable and pleasant but in some classrooms it greatly lacks that. In some classrooms, there are no plants. We decided that to make the classrooms more lively, plants are the key to make the classroom welcoming. We would wake up 5 in the morning to buy plants in the downtown flower market. We would ask teachers to donate as much as they could for the soil, plants and pots. After we hit the target of how much plants they want in their rooms, the members are assigned a classroom to take care of the plants. Students and teachers are more relaxed and comfortable in the classrooms. It's more welcoming to the students, staff, and parents who visit the classrooms.
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The Koala Kids pulled together a yard sale and each child was able to help in his or her own way. Some children held up signs to bring in more people. Other children donated items. And still others were able to talk to customers and discuss Roots & Shoots. We did not know what the outcome was going to be and everyone was happily surprised at the amount we got in just a few hours. Now the children want to do more and are excited about creating upcoming projects.
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Our group toured the no-kill animal shelter Orphans of the Storm (in Deerfield, IL), which has been housing cats and dogs since 1928. After a brief Q&A with our guide and a short tour of the dog area, we visited the cats and dropped off 4 bags of newspaper for donations. (We had been saving our newspapers for the past 2 or 3 months.) It was wonderful to visit the animals! This project could work with a variety of locations and ages.
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Rio Grande Community Farms offers farm plots to community members, schools and anyone interested in farming, and are currently working on a project to provide fresh local produce to Albuquerque Public School lunches. Our group learned about the farm, took a tour and helped their education specialist, Ian Simmons, to spread some mulch in preparation for a community event. We learned about irrigation, community partnerships, and did some hard work!
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Families arrived for two hour shifts to stock shelves at the local food pantry. The Storehouse is the largest Food Pantry in New Mexico, and one of the largest in the U.S. Kids stocked shelves, counted and bagged produce, organized the stockroom and bagged over 200 pounds of rice in 2 pound packages. The Storehouse provides food for over 100 families per day, and has had to adjust to many funding cutbacks, including staff and food supplies. They are grateful for the help we can offer. Our large group can do the same amount of work in a two hour shift that it takes for an employee to do in a week. When we are able to volunteer, staff members can turn their attention to other important tasks. This is a wonderful project for kids of all ages, from toddlers to high school students. Helping individuals to meet their basic needs is a wonderful and inspiring feeling for kids. They know they have made a difference in someone's life by helping them get the food they need.
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During a recent hike to the Sandia Mountain Nature Center, we learned that the center operates entirely on solar energy. One of their neat attractions is an 'ECO-CASA' or environmentally friendly model of a home, with everything from light bulb comparissons to rain barrels and low flush toilets. One of our members noticed they had no information about environmentally friendly cleaners, so we created cards that compared mainstream cleaners with harmful chemicals to environmentally friendly cleaners. We gave them samples of the cleaners to display, and created a comparisson between plastic, paper and reusable cloth shopping bags to help educate the 13,000 students that enter that facility yearly.

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