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We made valentines to send to children at Nicholson Elementary in Picayune, MS, who were displaced by hurricane Katrina. Out of 497 children attending the school, 103 still remain homeless today. All three grades (1, 2, and 3) did a terrific job. The third graders in our group practiced their letter writing skills. We plan to send at least 103 valentines.
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Our group got together and made about 100 cards for orphanages. A Mom in our group had a contact with someone who could help out internationally. The cards were all very warm and caring; the students really took pride in their efforts.
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As part of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network's (CCAN) "Keep Winter Cold" plunge, I jumped - along with 87 other crazy people - into the Chesapeake Bay. Before the "plunge," I emailed friends, family and co-workers to ask for pledges. We jumped into the bay on the beach of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation facility in Annapolis, Maryland. Although my feet stung for a few minutes, it wasn't as cold as I thought it would be!
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Roots & Shoots members created recycling boxes for every classroom in the school. Using boxes saved by the office (paper boxes), the students covered them with nature drawings and put the name of each individual teacher on the box. Volunteers take out the boxes each week to our school's paper recycling dumpster.
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The Roots & Shoots Candy Cane Sale was a success. Our group sold candy canes in order to raise money for two local animal shelters. We began selling the candy canes on December 11th, and raised $400 to be split between the two shelters. Roots & Shoots members met on December 22 to present checks to the animal shelters. Mary Carny, a coordinator from Rescue Village, came with three volunteers and their pets to receive the money. Members were also able to present a check to the Ohio Fuzzy Paws Rescue representatives.
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From building an indoor watershed, participating in World Water Quality Monitoring Month to planting small plants along a stream and learning about the animals in our "Zoo Room", 9 teachers have taken 120 3-5 year olds on an excursion into the world of water. Playing the water cycle game, putting on a concert for parents singing the Water Song by Magpie and creating take home projects on the animals who need good clean water water as we do, our children have learned what we do with our garbage and how we treat our land directly affects the quality of our water. As one little boy said recently "I'm going to have a baby soon and his teeth will be dirty so I turn off the water when I brush my teeth so he can have some to brush his teeth."! We plan to have a fundraiser to raise money for Hurricane Katrina Relief. We will use hairdryers, a pan full of water and small, plastic houses and animals to show the force of water in a hurricane. Right now, we are focusing on the animals.
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Three members from R&S at JGI went to this Volunteer Day for youth. We shared the story of Sadako Sasaki and the 1,000 paper cranes, and we also taught participants how to make origami cranes from reused magazine paper. We also spread the Roots & Shoots message!
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This project started last year. We discovered that the area we live in once supported Monarchs and served as a "fly way" in their migrations. Eventually, we planted 7 milkweed plants. The planting almost didn't happen, due to the misconceptions held by of the administration, who feared that milkweed was a toxic plant that could harm children. We gathered even more information and, in the end, the information we collect could not be refuted and we were granted permission to plant milkweed in our garden. This fall, we extended the garden with more weeding. We placed newspaper (10 layers thick!) all over the area and covered that with compost. This is suppose to keep out the existing weeds, giving our seeds a chance to sprout. If all goes right, our mature milkweed will be surrounded by wildflowers designed for butterflies, especially the Monarchs.
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For our wildflower garden, we used a re-seeding technique called "seed balls". These marble sized balls are made out of seeds, compost, and red clay ,and they have been used to re-seed areas after fires, or to re-establish native seeds to an area. Eventually, the 'balls' break down in the rain, giving a fertile place for seed to sprout and take root. They are easy and fun to make (think playing in the mud!). The recipe is 2 parts high quality seed, 3 parts compost, and 5 parts powdered red clay (this is the most difficult thing to find). Mix just enough water to make a very thick clay (do not use too much water!), then allow them to dry. Finally, just throw them into the garden. There is no need to dig holes or bury them.
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In December, Tom McCall Roots & Shoots became aware that there was real poverty in our community. We decided to do something about it. Working though our local family resource food bank, we "adopted" two families with the goal of providing them with a more joyful holiday than their circumstances would allow. One family was made up of a single mother and 3 children, and the other was a single mother with 2 children. Although the actual families were kept anonymous, we able to develop a profile of needs and want of each family member. We collected gifts and food, and with money we raised, we purchased substantial gift certificates from local stores and markets. By working together, we were able to really make a difference for some of those less fortunate than us. In the process, we raised our own awareness of the issues of poverty and homelessness.

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