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The Tomah High School Roots & Shoots club held their 4th Annual Holiday Pet Food Drive for the Monroe County Animal Shelter. Since its start, we have raised over 2500 pounds of pet food and medications for the local animal shelter. This year we raised another 1000 pounds of food for them.
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We made Stone Soup from vegetables brought in by the children. The soup was taken to a local shelter for homeless families. Our high school youth led the younger children and helped them cut the vegetables and make the soup.
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The high school youth solicited donations for sample size toiletries from our congregation. They helped the younger children to put these into kits to be donated to flood victims in our state.
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There is currently a project sponsored by the Norwalk River Watershed Association on Schenk's island, a town park area in Wilton, CT, which aims to restore the space to all native wildlife and help the island resemble the way it was before European settlers arrived. Our group decided to help and we were asked to remove bittersweet vines for four weeks in October. Asian bittersweet is an invasive vine that destroys natural American ecosystems by strangling trees and taking up available soil space. We used vine clippers to remove vines growing straight out of the ground and constricting trees. The massive networks of roots make the plant difficult to eradicate completely, but we were able to uproot some. We then dragged the severed vines to a large pile, which was later burned. The results were noticeable almost immediately; dead vines could be seen hanging in trees. We will continue work this spring and next year in an attempt to rid the several acres area of bittersweet. We have also been named the river rangers for this area that has the Norwalk River running through it. That responsibility involves keeping the river clear of garbage and monitoring it's health and condition for the Watershed Association. We will maintain the river through Shencks Island on an on-going basis.
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We held a bake sale in front of our local grocery store, the Village Market, to raise money for the Lamu Marine Conservation Project. This project, through the large organization TUSK, aims to protect nesting grounds of critically endangered sea turtles on the Kenyan islands of Lamu and Manda and educate local communities about marine conservation. The group pays the islanders who formerly dug up and sold the turtle eggs to, instead, protect the eggs from other poachers. Also, if fishermen accidentally catch the turtles, they can bring them to the group and be paid more for them than they would get in the open market for the turtle shells and meat. Then the group releases the turtles. For the bake sale, we all brought home-baked goods and sold them in front of the store. We also had literature available about the charity and answered people's questions. This project simultaneously spread awareness and raised money.
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Making affordable cloth grocery bags out of recycled material. I asked the local grocery store owner if we could set up a table to sell the bags we made. The sale was on America Recycles Day. We made 30 bags and sold more than half in the first 20 mins. The rest were sold in two hours. We were inspired by the positive reaction from so many people and the interest in recycling other things. We are members of a group that is working to create a recycling center in our town. We included a list of ways to recycle many things in our town. People stop us and ask if they can buy bags, so we are going to make another batch. The money made in this project is in a fund for the Save The Whales Again Foundation. We're hoping to raise a few hundred dollars next time.
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Our group decided to hold a movie screening as a benefit for a worthy cause or organization. After two meetings of brainstorming and voting, it was decided that we wanted to benefit victims of the Peru earthquake of August 2007, as 58,000 homes had been destroyed, and infrastructure repair was ongoing. Many members of our group had traveled to Peru in July 2007, leaving the country only weeks before the earthquake hit, so this project was close to our hearts. We showed two episodes of the "Planet Earth" series which featured Peru and also showed its incredible diversity. Admission was $5, and we sold popcorn, water, cookies and chocolate as well. We earned approximately $200, to be sent to the International Red Cross.
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Our school Roots and Shoots club has been recycling paper for about three years now and for a while have wanted to also collect the many beverage cans and bottles the school community throws in the trash every day. We were unable to do this since our club is a small one, and the paper project already takes up the time and financial resources of the Club. We recently found a free way to get our cans and bottles picked up so that we can now recycle these as well as the paper and the teachers and administrators are really pleased. The Clearstream collection bins fill up regularly and we are proud that we can keep them out of the trash bins.
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Members were invited to a ceremony honoring Samantha Smith at the world-famous Peace Abbey in Sherborn, MA. Members presented Samantha Smith's mother (who accepted Samantha's award for her) with hand-made paper flowers embellished with messages of peace and gratitude. I gave a short speech describing Roots and Shoots and about the Cold War.
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Members held a bake sale in downtown Holliston during a special "Holiday Stroll" event to raise money for Dr. Jane and the chimps and also to fund a blanket making project for the homeless. Along with baking, members worked at the bake sale table.

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