Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

April 22, 2010

Wakarusa students focus on 'green' living

WAKARUSA — For the students and staff of Wakarusa Elementary School, the significance of Earth Day has extended far beyond a one-day observance. The school has embraced the philosophies of greener living and environmental awareness since the beginning of the school year.

And on Thursday, some of their efforts paid off splendidly, as their hard work culminated in a worthwhile alliance with Habitat for Humanity. The youngsters came away from the experience having learned a lesson about the importance of both saving the planet, and enhancing the livelihood of a family in need.

Since last fall, the challenge was extended to collect aluminum cans and bring them to school. The cans were deposited into a giant "house," and the race was on to try and fill the house with as many cans as possible. As of this spring, youngsters and staffers alike were able to tally approximately 9,000 cans. The cans were then recycled, which resulted in a profit of around $130.

The money that was generated from the project was then given to the Elkhart County branch of Habitat for Humanity. Those funds were used to purchase several 2-by-6-inch planks of wood, which will be used as the foundation for a bedroom in a future Habitat home. Most proper and poignantly, for a child’s bedroom.

Brooke Hartman, marketing coordinator for Habitat’s local chapter, visited Wakarusa Elementary on Thursday, and noted that it cost in the vicinity of $160 to purchase the wood framing. "Even though they were about $30 short," Hartman said, "they can continue to raise money by bringing in more cans through the rest of the school year. I have no doubt that they’ll make that goal."

What made the gesture even more heartfelt was an extra endeavor that took place over the lunch hour on Thursday. The wood was laid out on long tables in the school cafeteria, and children lined up to write their names on the sections before they are used for construction. Several children even penned personal messages of hope in addition to signing their monikers.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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