Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youths 18 years of age and younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. Meet 5 year old Izabella from Alisa Viejo, CA who loves to pick up trash. She and her friends pick up trash after lunch in their school’s garden, and they frequently stuff wrappers in their pockets for future use! Izabella and her friends wanted to enlist their classmates’ help with picking up trash by purchasing “grabbers” which make picking up trash more fun (and clean). They broadened their own trash-gathering scope from lunchtime in the garden to the playground and bathrooms. When the grabbers were distributed, a teacher read a book about picking up trash to all students in the garden during storytime. Students also made drawings showing how the grabbers helped them pick up trash.
- How many volunteers participated in your service project? 5
- How many hours did you specifically spend on your project? We spent about 2 hours on the project, including communication with the teachers and time spent buying supplies.
- How many individuals were affected by your project? About 75 children have been able to use the trash grabbers and other materials that we purchased.
- What did you learn from this experience? We didn’t consider how we were going to store the materials in the classroom, and we overestimated how much each grabber would cost (they were much cheaper in Target than online). Thus, we modified the project to accommodate the space issue and to incorporate more opportunities for the children to learn about protecting their environment. We split the grabbers over 3 classrooms- 1 preschool and 2 kinder. While each classroom had fewer grabbers, it made storing them easier. Kinder has their own playground supply cart where they could store their grabbers. In preschool, the teacher has a chart of “jobs” the children choose to be in charge of each week. She added the “grabber” into the jobs chart so the children wouldn’t fight over who got to use the grabbers. Because the children had to wait their turn to use the grabbers, we incorporated 2 additional learning opportunities for them to engage in that focused on environmentalism. We ordered 6 containers of caterpillars for the children to release into our school garden. This gave them a chance to talk about why keeping our school clean is important for nature. We also purchased paint for the kinder children to engage in a writing unit that focuses on keeping our environment clean. Each child created a poster that said recycle, or pick up your trash or keep the school clean, etc (the students created their own message and design). These were posted around the school and in their classes to encourage other students to be environmentally friendly. Last, we also failed to consider where the kids would put the trash after they picked it up (the school does not have trash cans in the playground and garden area- they are on the other side of the school where the lunch tables are). So, we purchased trash pails and liners for the children to put their trash as they collected it.
- How will your project continue having an impact in the future? The preschool teacher said the “grabbers” are the favorite activity of the children. We hope it will encourage the current class, and classes to come, to continue to use them and be more aware of keeping the school yard and garden clean. The kinder students also enjoy using their grabbers. Their teacher says the students have gone out to our recess area and up by the fields to pick up trash. We hope these students will continue to be aware of picking up trash at school, protecting the garden and their environment, and maybe even encouraging a recycling/environmentally friendly atmosphere at school.
- Overall, summarize how your project was completed and how you think it went.The project involved buying trash “grabbers”, cans, caterpillars, and paint for preschool and kinder children at Viejo Elementary School. We purchased the supplies and let the teachers implement them into their classrooms/play time. All feedback was positive, and the teachers reported the children were very excited by the project. It was an easy project to accomplish.
- How was the Karma for Cara microgrant helpful in the completion of your project? The microgrant paid for the materials for the project. We probably would not have purchased these and made them available to the children without the support of the grant.