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There is a historic Jewish Cemetery on the north side of Chicago, near to other historic cemeteries. This one had fallen into serious disrepair over the past 20 years or so, with invasive brush and weeds claiming almost the entire space. The ownership of the cemetery recently changed hands and the new owner has a real interest in cleaning it up, but has little funds. Our goal was to clear as much brush as possible to expose the gravestones and markers. I read about the cemetery in the Chicago Tribune and decided it would be a great service project for the human community. After contacting the reporter, she passed on my information to the new owner. The cemetery dates to about the 1830's and there are no family members currently paying maintenance fees. Our group has done a lot of work in forest preserves caring for the natural environment and wildlife habitats, so this fit in perfectly with their skill base. The project was inspiring because it again showed the kids how one small group of people can make a large difference. They want to go back and want other groups to get involved as this is a massive work in progress. It could be a beautiful site, but the owner needs a lot of help.
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The UUFN R&S group wanted a way to educate people about the Roots & Shoots organization. One of the members, Derek Cote, suggested a movie. So everyone decided we would make a 10 minute video showing how R&S began and how young people can change the world. Each week for two months they built sets, worked on the script, made gnome puppets and filmed each other doing projects. It was exciting to learn how to film a video and then see the results. The film 'premiered' at a fundraiser we organized to raise money for the Santa Martha animal rescue center in Ecuador. Everyone loved our movie! We uploaded it to YouTube for the world to see, and sent the link to our friends and family. We hope to also send it to other Roots & Shoots organizations. The movie can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=275BRxFtXyk
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To benefit World Wildlife Fund and help with the work they are doing with endangered species, we held an Earth Week event. The purpose of the even was not only to fundraise, but also to raise awareness about a variety of diverse environmental issues from energy conservation to global warming. During lunches, members set up tables in the three cafeterias with posters addressing a variety of environmental issues and canned for donations to World Wildlife Fund. Anyone who donated $1 or more was entered into a drawing to win tickets to either the Museum of Science or the New England Aquarium. For four of the days that week, members set up games in the third floor overpass which cost an average of $.50 to play. They included "Peg A Polluter" in which a member went outside dressed as a polluter and the participant aimed to hit them with a water balloon from the third floor overpass. Prizes were awarded to everyone who played the games. The entire hallway was set-up for Earth Week with streamers adorning the ceiling and "trees" covering the walls, where the names of donors were hung on leaves. There was "grass" hanging towards the ground made of table-cloths which we cut into strands. All of this set-up occurred on the Saturday before the event with members spending up to six hours preparing the hallway. The area even included some posters similar to those in the cafeterias which informed participants further about a plethora of environmental issues. To advertise for the event, we created posters to hang up around the school and had special morning announcements which included skits and fun-facts about the environmental issues we wanted to raise awareness of. Our project was a great success, both because we raised awareness of our group and because we raised $420 for World Wildlife Fund.
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At our school, there are many girls who buy prom dresses and never wear them again, but there are many girls throughout the state who do not attend their prom because they cannot afford to buy a dress. We collected a total of 20 gently-used prom dresses to donate to the Fairy Godmother Project of Massachusetts, an organization which makes dresses available to girls from low-income families who would otherwise be unable to attend the prom. Through our work on this drive, it is very gratifying to know that 20 girls will now be able to have the night of their lives--something we at our school often take for granted.
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There is a river, which runs through Medford, but is unfortunately quite polluted and dirty. It faces the issues of both the invasion of non-native species and a gargantuan amount of trash in and around it. Near the river, there is a hatchshell and a baseball field. When many people throw their trash on the ground there, it eventually ends up in the river. A local organization, Friends of the Mystic River, has semi-annual clean-ups to gather together people from the community to clean-up as much as possible in one day. At the clean-up, members of the MHS Roots & Shoots, walked along various parts of the river picking up garbage and shards of glass. At the end, we even sat down and talked about some of the most interesting things that we found--it's absolutely amazing what people will leave by the river. I realized that there are so many beautiful places in the world and with all of the amazing natural features of Medford from the Mystic River to the Fells woods, our city could be beautiful too if all of us would band together and try to change things. Even though I was not able to pick up everything, what I did realize is that the river is already cleaner than when I was a child and that maybe the goal of the organization that we had partnered with--to make the Mystic River of swim-able quality by 2020 was not necessarily as outlandish as it seemed.
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Every month, our group managed to pull off a successful bake sale at 7:30 in the morning. Members arranged who would donate certain baked goods towards the sale, and then we would make a profit by selling the items.
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The project was initiated by our single club. With the help of Bradford City Recycling, the high school, and many other individuals outside of Roots & Shoots, we were able to get about 80 recycling bins donated to the high school for each classroom. Every Tuesday after the club meetings, a few members for each floor gathered the recycled paper. We gathered about 11 forty gallon garbage bags of paper ever week (that means there were 396 forty gallon bags of paper total). The high school used to throw this paper all away!! Bradford City came and picked up the recycle on a weekly basis.
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The group came together to organize a benefit buffet at our local Pizza Hut for the club. We worked with the manager of Pizza Hut, school officials and the community radio and newspaper to pull together for a very successful fundraiser. Our club was at Pizza Hut for 4 hours taking drink orders, refreshing salad bars, clearing tables, washing dishes, and having fun!
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Every so often, group members went down to the local McKean County SPCA (our animal shelter) to volunteer in walking dogs, giving animals baths, cleaning kennels and boxing ink cartridges for cash.
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Every month, the group got together along with "stream attire", garbage bags and a lot of energy to clean up the littler in the school stream. We had a lot of laughs doing the project and a lot of trips and falls. All and all, we had fun cleaning the stream and gathered a coupe garbage bags full every time.

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