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Subsequent to our first meeting, we had three writing assignments, two for the children and one for the parents in our Family Journals. We focused on "What is change?" and "How can we make a difference?" We all brainstormed and came up with three projects. Our second project was to decorate pieces of reused carpet squares which were made into cat scratch mats and taken to a local domestic animal rescue shelter.
United States
Subsequent to our first meeting, we had three writing assignments, two for the children and one for the parents in our Family Journals. We focused on "What is change?" and "How can we make a difference?" We all brainstormed and came up with three projects. Our third and last project was a session devoted to stemming the tide of holiday waste. We made reusable decorated gift boxes and cards for Hanukkah and Christmas using scraps of recycled fabric, paper, ribbons and even an old gold watch band!
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We created two recycled peace doves and about 10 small stick peace doves. This was a community-based project, with a public school and the Humane Society of Western Montana. We marched the doves in the Wildwalk (a parade and festival that honors and supports wildlife around the world) along with dogs (including an adoptable dog from our Humane Society). We created a banner that promoted the local animal shelters, and made wings of various insects and birds out of recycled material for the dogs. We also had a sign painted that stated, "Give them the wings to fly" to promote adopting animals. Our goals were to create a community-based group, and to promote awareness about animal shelters. The children worked hard, and it was a fabulous event. Very Exciting!
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Jessica came across a stray dog close to her home, and being the earth warrior she is, she took the stray in. She had the dog wormed and vaccinated for rabies. She found it a good home and thanks to Jessica, this dog won't have to go hungry again.
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Our Operation Happy Socks project was a big success again. Over several weeks we collected old, mis-matched socks. These socks were cleaned carefully. The socks are then stuffed with organic catnip and polyester fill, then tied closed. The result is a enrichment cat toy that we gave to local animal shelters and clinics. As a result of our efforts, some comfort was given to homeless cats. We hope that their lives were enriched.
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Our group went Christmas caroling at a local nursing home. We collected stuffed animals to give to the residents and made Christmas cards to hand out. The kids really enjoyed donating stuffed animals, it was something they could relate to. They also liked making the Christmas cards. When we arrived at the nursing home, a group of residents was waiting for us in one of the dining rooms. We joined them and sang several Christmas songs. Some residents sang along, some just enjoyed hearing the music. After singing, the kids handed out the Christmas cards and stuffed animals to the residents in the dining room. Several of the residents visited with the kids for a few minutes, many hugs were exchanged, and there were big smiles all around, from our group and the residents. We moved to a different area where we sang to another group, then went to a few individual rooms, singing to residents. We visited with some of the residents in the main common area, before we left the nursing home. We are planning on making regular visits to the nursing home with the hope of developing some relationships with the residents and helping out with projects they may want to do.
Czech Republic
The main goal of our project was to collect thermoses to donate to the main homeless shelter in Prague. Students made posters that they put up at school, made announcements on the school-wide intercom system, at school assemblies, on the parent contact email, in their homerooms and at a parent/teacher association meeting, wrote an article for the school newspaper and sent home fliers. We brainstormed ideas for helping animals, people and the environment, and decided to do a project to benefit the homeless as our first main project of the year. The students found out that homeless people are served tea at the shelter, but had no way to take it away with them. They thought that providing thermoses would be a great idea. Students learned how to go from brainstorming to completion. The group asked for donations of thermoses or of $10.00 so they could go buy the thermoses. The school community responded enthusiastically and the group collected more than their goal of 100 thermoses. The middle school student council even donated $400.00 from their budget! Members of the group wrapped and presented the thermoses as Xmas gifts and sang Christmas songs in Czech and English at the shelter. The recipients were most appreciative!
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We held our annual International Day of Peace this year on Sept. 18th. It was a beautiful fall day at McMenamins Grand Lodge, which has been the site of our event for the past 4 years. At least 150 people participate in a sunny day full of Giant Dove flying, music, and community as we celebrated our shared wish for peace. Seven Giant Peace Doves took to the air in parades around the beautiful grounds of the Grand Lodge. Music filled the day with two guest performers. Local singer/songwriter George Reiswig opened the music with original songs, featuring one written specifically for our Peace Day event. The featured artist was Dana Lyons (of "Cows with Guns" fame). Of course, the highlight of his performance was hearing his song about the Giant Peace Dove movement, "Circle the World". Our group taught other participants how to fold Origami Peace Cranes and the story of "Sadako" and its connection to the children's international peace movement. Information on Roots&Shoots was shared with all who attended and Jane Goodall's message was shared.
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On Sept. 23, our Roots & Shoots group ran our yearly environmental clean-up of the Tom McCall Forest. This one forested acre is part of the campus of Tom McCall Upper Elementary School. Over the years we have transformed this area into an outdoor classroom, through these community clean-ups. The activities included removal of invasive species (blackberry, Ivy, holly); weeding; mulching trees and shrubs; installation & maintenance of squirrel and bird feeders; installation of a bat house; planting of native trees, shrubs, and bulbs; collection of seeds and maintenance of wildflower/butterfly garden; and general removal of trash. In spite of the constant rain, we accomplished a lot, preparing the Forest for the coming Winter. About 15 trees where planted during the event.
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Every year our Roots&Shoots groups learns to fold Origami Peace Cranes, as well as the story of "Sadako and the Thousand Cranes" and how it connects to the international child's peace project. We also have explored this story through the song by Fred Small called "Cranes Over Hiroshima". We share what we have learned with other groups and the public every chance we get throughout the year. Last year we sent over 2,000 cranes to Hiroshima, Japan. This year we hope to send a similar about.

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