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Sep 27, 2010
School Spirit Challenge
Last week, we kicked off America's School Spirit Challenge which will determine where Care2 will donate over $30,000 to schools around the country.

As schools work to build support for the 8 week challenge (September 20 - November 12), we decided to go back and talk with our spring contest winners and find out what they were doing with the money we donated and how they mobilized their communities to be successful in last year’s challenge.

P.S. 37 in Staten Island, New York worked hard to win the top prize of $20,000. As a school that serves students with developmental disabilities and other special needs, the money is an extra boost to help them purchase equipment that will make learning easier.

O.B. Gates Elementary School in Chesterfield, Virginia won third place and is using the money to buy additional instructional supplies for the classrooms. Kasey Shane is Principal of the school and says "The best part of the contest was the unity we saw in our community for the school. I was hooked on reading the positive comments about our school everyday!"

Each week, a random school will win a $500 reward. Grange Hall Elementary School in Virginia was a winner of $500 during our spring contest. They are using the money to purchase a Promenthean Interactive Whiteboard, which can be used throughout the school. Kathy Sefrin, Principal of Grange Hall, says that the PTA really lead the way in getting the school involved with the challenge. Kathy says it was "a joy" to see the community get involved with the school in the way they did.

Sacajawea Elementary School was another winner of the $500 weekly prize. They are trying to supply each classroom with a camera and a projector to improve student engagement and promote learning. The $500 was able to supply one classroom with one of these sets of tools. Kris Janati, Principal at Sacajawea, said "This contest allowed various members of our community an opportunity to talk about the great things we do together for our kids. In this way, it reiterated and promoted the pride we feel about our school and our community."

Talking with the principals of the schools that have been successful with the America's School Spirit Challenge, one thing comes through -- they would not have been successful without the support and organization of members of the community. Whether it was the PTA or a group of active parents, their involvement was key to helping their school to be successful in the challenge. 

What else worked? The parent's of last year's winners, P.S. 37 in Staten Island, New York, brought computers with them everywhere they went and had members of the community sign up and vote. One parent from SOAR Charter Academy, which placed 2nd in the last contest really got her children involved in helping and turned it into a learning experience. "Not only did they learn to communicate with the public, they practiced typing on the computer, responding to emails, and they got to brag about their school."

With each of these contests that Care2 is able to organize - America's School Spirit Challenge, the Favorite Shelter contest, or the America's Love Your Farmer's Market contest - we at Care2 are reminded about the importance of community support. Our mission is to empower people to do good in a way that’s sustainable for them and their community.

These contests have also led to other great rewards -- parents feel more connected to other parents and the activities at the school, a soapbox for the school to talk to the press about something good, and one school received a "matching gift" allowing them to do even more good things with the money they won.

Have you voted for your school?
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Posted: Sep 27, 2010 9:00am
Nov 13, 2009
I love when Care2 helps inspire new activists. We recently received a touching package from New Zealand that helped reinforce why all of us at Care2 do what we do. The package contained the following letter:

Dear the lovely people at,

We are Room 2 at St Mary's School in a small town called Milton, New Zealand. We are a class of 18, 6-7 year old children. We have taken a huge interest in helping to free the dolphins from captivity. We took the liberty of signing our own petition and writing some valuable reasons about why we think dolphins do not deserve to be kept cooped up in captivity.

We know we have only 19 signatures, however, we wanted to do all we could in order to make a change in any dolphin's life.

We hope you like our letters and photos of our art work that we have done in support of this cause.

We hope we have helped to make some kind of change for the dolphins.

Free the dolphins! They are too precious!

Yours sincerely,

Room 2 at St Mary's School, Milton

With the cover letter was a package of individual, handwritten letters from all of the
kids with reasons why they wanted dolphins freed, along with their photos. Their NZ school children w dolphinresponses are adorable. But what inspires me the most is that each personal letter is filled with care and compassion: "It can hurt the dolphins and it's not enough room for the babies," writes one.  "They are friendly and they have friends in the ocean," says another. "It's like hurting God's pets," another letter says. Letter after letter, all implore people to get the dolphins out of captivity.

The petition, letters and photos now adorn a wall at Care2’s headquarters in California.

We wrote to the kids' teacher,  Luchia Hermens. Miss Hermens found out about the plight of the dolphins through Care2's Facebook group and was inspired to bring the message of saving the dolphins into her classroom (I've previously written about Care2's work to save dolphins).

"I asked the children if they were interested in learning more about the dolphins and asked them if they would like to help get the dolphins out of captivity and they really wanted to. We looked at your website and we researched lots more about dolphins and saving them and the children became very concerned and wanted to do as much as they could," Miss Hermens explained. "They wanted to help save their lives, and they did not want the dolphins being hurt and we want their babies to be happy and survive with their mother and have enough room to live, play, and learn."

In addition to writing letters, the children created dolphins in an art project. One of the farmers in the Milton area had extra vinyl, so Miss Hermens drew outlines of dolphins. The children used ripped up magazine pages to make a collage on each of the dolphins; the result is three adorable dolphins that now decorate Miss Hermens' classroom.

Miss Hermens used this as a starting point for further research; the students did an assembly presentation with the information they discovered about the dolphins and continue to do artwork and writing about these magnificent creatures.

Best of all, the children in this very small town in New Zealand are learning how to be stewards of the earth and its inhabitants -- and we hope they'll grow up to be activists for dolphins on Care2! Thanks to Miss Hermens for getting them started on this path and for sharing their story with us.  Miss Hermens class

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Posted: Nov 13, 2009 4:08pm


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Randy Paynter
, 1
Hillsborough, CA, USA
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