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Students made Christmas presents for the birds. They strung popcorn and berries to hang on the trees and bushes in the school garden. They also covered pinecones with shortening and peanut butter and then rolled them in birdseed, tied string around them and hung them from trees. They also used stale bagels cut in half and spread them with the birdseed and shortening mixture and hung them from branches through the hole in the middle.
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Over 50 placemats were donated to the Long Beach Rescue Mission by Los Cerritos Roots & Shoots students. Students colored 11X17 Thanksgiving related pictures which were glued onto construction paper and laminated to create placemats which were then delivered for Thanksgiving dinner.
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Roots & Shoots students covered cardboard boxes with decorative paper and delivered them to each classroom and the school office. Non-perishable foods were collected by each class for approximately three weeks. Students helped to gather boxes from classrooms in preparation for pick-up by the Salvation Army.
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Earth Hawks Roots & Shoots volunteered at Foodshare in Ventura, California. Foodshare is a food bank that organizes surplus food donated from markets and restaurants and distributes to families and seniors in Ventura County. This year we packed holiday goodie bags for children of migrant farm workers. We packed over 700 bags in one afternoon.
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Earth Hawks Roots & Shoots volunteered at Ojai's Continuing Care Center. The Continuing Care Center is a place where seniors live when they are not well enough to take care of themselves at home. Usually, it's a place for recovery after a hospital visit. We made water colored bookmarks and lavender sachets to hand out as gifts. We also sang holiday songs and entertained with a violin recital, piano recital and Irish dancing. For those patients not strong enough to come to the community hall, we visited in their rooms and sang holiday carols and gave out our gifts.
Spain
Our family group spent the 2006 Easter holidays in the Les Planes de Son Center. The full name for this building is "Centre de Desenvolupament Sostenible dels Pirineus," or "Center for Sustainable Development of the Pyrenees." It is located in Catalonia, the North-East Autonomous Community of Spain. The whole building is an example of eco-construction, with features such as: - a grass roof for better climate control and visual impact reduction - solar panels - intelligent use of solar light Everywhere you can find multiple bins for recycling and signs on all water faucets encourage conserving water. Just being in the building increased our awareness of ways to save energy at home. Our family participated in activities such as: - a visit to the "endangered animals" center, where we learned about the animals from an expert and children were allowed to feed some of them. The expert made it clear that this center is not a zoo, but more of a temporary rescue and rehabilitation center for the animals. - "sensations" forest, to awake senses like smell, touch and sound in nature. - excursions to forests and rivers nearby. - cultural visits to historic villages with 1000-year-old churches. I strongly recommend you to visit the center's website (http://www.lesplanesdeson.com/) which have English, French and Spanish versions besides the original in Catalan.
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Our Roots & Shoots group spent some time planning and gathering materials for a Christmas caroling event designed to bring good cheer to a local housing project, a health clinic and a local business. The group decided on what songs to sing, gathered and copied into books the words to the songs they wanted to sing and then spent the entire afternoon singing to the local people in these settings. They were well recieved and brought many smiles to their audiences.
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Our Roots & Shoots group was studying gardening this month. The group built a planter box outside the building and hauled soil over to fill it and then planted seeds of a local variety. They will tend to it over the course of the fall growing season. The group also went to Good Works Organic Farm and recieved a tour from the farmer who discussed the differences between organic farming and regular farming, discussed local insects, and local plant varieties. Kids picked apples for a snack and got to take home a pumpkin.
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Throughout the holidays, we collected 110 pairs of shoes for children at Amani Children's Home and an orphanage for younger children in Tanzania. Amani takes in AIDS orphans and street children and gives them a chance for a brighter future (www.amanikids.org). We watched the Amani video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWIvCBsOyXw) and read books about how children live around the world, and one child noticed that very often they have no shoes! So we put together the idea of collecting shoes to send to kids in Africa. As it happens, my parents and sister will be flying over to Tanzania in February and will bring the shoes directly to Amani and the other orphanage. We collected shoes from friends and family, some of whom were so excited about the idea that they ran their own sub-drives. Even the local paper got interested and did a feature article on our project.
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The Saturdays at the Shelter program brought together 10 kids between 9 and 11 years old. Over the course of seven Saturdays, the kids worked through a number of group projects on humane treatment of animals and companion animal skills. They each picked a project to do on their own; some made posters, others made cat toys for the cats at the Shelter, and one, the editor of her middle school paper, wrote an editorial.

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