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.
Added Eileen Bormann, guidance counselor at Wakarusa Elementary, "The students have discovered the importance of recycling. It’s not just the difference it makes in their lives, but they are recognizing the impact recycling can have on others." Bormann also praised the efforts of the fifth-grade "recycling team," which often took on the task of crushing cans, and mentioned that fifth-graders Connor Yoder and Makia Tartt devoted quite a bit of time to the project as well.
All of the proceeds generated from the schoolwide recycling program will ultimately benefit Habitat for Humanity, by supporting their mission to employ green building. The organization has been dedicated to incorporating sustainable building practices. Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County was founded in 1986, and since that time, they have responsible for the raising of more than 135 houses throughout the region. Now they are working to blaze the trail for energy efficient homes as well.
"By integrating resource-efficient principles, Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County aims to meet the current needs of the family without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their economic, social, and ecological needs," said Hartman, speaking on behalf of the agency.
For more information on the Elkhart County chapter of Habitat for Humanity, they have a Web site available at www.habitatec.com, or they can be reached via phone at (574) 533-6109. Their offices are located in the Peddler’s Village Shopping Center, located at 2526 Peddler’s Village Road.