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Since the Voorhees Pediatric Facility is located across the street from the high school, our club had a great opportunity to volunteer at the facility on a regular basis. The Pediatric Facility provides long term medical care to severely ill and disabled children of all ages. All but a couple of these children are confined to wheelchairs, and few of the children can speak or move well. Our club decided that we would help these children make their own wildlife decorations. We helped the children make many different types of decorations including pinecones smeared with peanut butter and suet and dipped in seed; garlands of grapes, apples, popcorn, and peanuts; and bagels spread with peanut butter and dipped in seed. After we finished making the decorations with the children, we would hang the decorations in courtyards where the children could view them from their playrooms. We visited the children every Wednesday throughout the winter. After several weeks of hanging the decorations, many different types of birds showed up to feed while we were at the facility. The children were extremely excited that the wildlife enjoyed their decorations and were eager to learn from us what types of birds were feeding.
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We worked with a student in the media department to create two videos to air on the morning announcements. The first video provided an introduction to Jane Goodall and Roots & Shoots while the second video goes into more depth about the plight of chimpanzees and the Tchimpounga Youth Campaign. We also made posters and hung fliers from the Roots & Shoots website about the bushmeat trade and the Tchimpounga Sanctuary. To raise funding, we planned two breakfast sales and three bake sales. A local bakery donated all the bagels for our campaign and BJ's Wholesale Club gave us a gift certificate to buy muffins and juice. We also collected Chimp Change during lunches. Overall we donated several hundred dollars to the campaign.
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Through a nationwide recycling campaign, our Roots & Shoots group will be able to donate money directly to the Jane Goodall Institute. We will earn 5-6 cents for every 20 oz. pop bottle we send to TerraCycle, a group that recycles the pop bottles for eco-friendly plant food. The company ships four postage paid boxes to your organization, and after receiving two boxes (which contain 70 bottles) they will ship two more boxes to you. They cut checks to your chosen organization twice a year, in June and December.
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The South Shore Roots & Shoots participated in the Garden in Transit project in New York City. It is sponsored by the nationwide campaign of Portraits of Hope. It is a humanitarian project bringing hope and awareness to the future for children that are ill. Our group painted giant flowers and signed their names to each. In September of 07 these pictures will be placed on all the yellow taxis in NYC. Our group will be going back in June to paint some more flowers. The program is free, it is open to everyone and it runs through July. For more information the website is Garden in Transit.org. This project is only in NYC. Every year they choose a new location.
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Bryan Nurnberger from a non-profit called Simply Smiles visited our group to tell them about the organization. Bryan told us about how Simply Smiles is dedicated to improving the lives of impoverished children. One of the orphanages that SS funds is called Casa Hogar in Oaxaca, Mexico. At Casa Hogar, there is a bunch of children from one family called the Mateo Family. This is their story: Living at The Casa Hogar Children's Home in Oaxaca, Mexico are ten children from the same family. Mrs. Mateo, their disabled mother/ grandmother, was forced to turn her children over to Casa Hogar's care one by one. Seven years ago, her husband and their two sons were falsely accused of murder, tried in a language they didn't speak, and being unable to defend themselves, were subsequently pulled from their mountain village and sentenced to life in prison. This gross injustice left Mrs. Mateo alone with her children and grandchildren with no means to support them. She soon moved to a ten by ten foot tin square near Oaxaca's garbage dump so she could be closer to Casa Hogar and her children. It came to our attention recently that Mrs. Mateo was living in a house so unacceptable for human inhabitance that something just had to be done. It was the hope that with the compassion and generosity of the Roots & Shoots members at Burr Elementary School that we could raise enough money to build Mrs. Mateo a new house, with cement walls, a roof, and dry place to sleep. The students decided to do a walk-a-thon to raise enough money to build the Mateo's a home. After creating publicity, getting sponsors, and walking, the students raised $3,370 , which was enough to build a house! n the spring, representatives from SS will be traveling to Oaxaca to build the home. Once the house is built, Bryan Nurnberger will return with a slide show of the build and of the final house.
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A our first meeting we visited Trisha Lombardi from the CT Audubon Society. She shared with us many of her bird friends. They were all birds of prey that had been hurt and in need of rehabilitation. Our students learned about the needs of these special birds and decided to raise funds to help take care of these birds at the Audubon. The students decided to do two things to raise money: 1) Make pine cone bird feeders to sell to students at our school. We would be helping our local birds by putting out the feeders and in return, the money would go toward rehabilitating the birds of prey. 2) Make large paper owls, turkey vultures, and eagles to hang up in school. If a person wanted to sponsor a bird, they would pay a dollar and get their name on the paper bird. The bird would be hung up on a line at school for everyone to see. After creating publicity, making the pine cone bird feeders, cutting out the paper birds, and selling them after school, we raised enough money to feed all the birds at the Audubon for a half year!
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The New England Regional Office and Roots & Shoots groups across the region gathered to meet Jane Goodall on March 18, where they also worked on a service-learning peace project together! Youth from the ages of high school down to first grade wrote and decorated cards of well wishes that will be sent to children in Iraq. Cards were made with markers and recycled paper and were covered with wishes of peace and good will. They will be mailed by composer, Ruth Mendelson, along with her "Well Wishes and Blessings" cd, a collection of songs made by youth in the United States for youth in Iraq.
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Our R&S group got involved in the Operation Christmas Child project around Christmas time. OCC is an organization that provides children around the world with Christmas Presents. Our group put together a christmas present for an 11-14 year old child. We put toys, school supplies, and toiletries in the box. After we were done shopping, we delivered the box to a collection center where they then wrapped and sent it.
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The third graders decided that the first project we would engage in would be a fundraiser for Heifer International. The group is raising money through Heifer's "Read to Feed" program, in which the children will try to acquire pledges for the amount of pages they read in self-selected books. In addition, the group has decided to have a car wash at the school as a culminating event for the fundraiser. The group chose this project because they felt that they were making a positive impact on the human community, the environment, and animals through the fundraising work.
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Children at Kids Express Learning Center compost their leftovers in the compost bin to make good soil and worm cities. Each classroom has a rotating compost captain who moves the compost. Children help out with all aspects of the organic gardening program including planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, & tasting! Roots & Shoots children also help sell organic produce at our Children's Market. We typically raise around $300 and the money is used to buy seeds and garden tools.

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