Kids Give

On Sunday, Oct. 10, thousands of people on our planet worked to reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere as a part of a global movement called 350.org. The number 350 is extremely important for our planet. Scientists say it is the target number of carbon molecules per million in our atmosphere that will ensure our planet will not overheat. For all of human history, the carbon in our atmosphere rested at 275 parts-per-million. Today, we’re at 392 ppm. If we stop burning so much carbon, our forests and soil will slowly cycle some of the CO2 out of the atmosphere and reduce the number to 350, which would make it possible to eat and breathe for years to come. 

On Oct. 10, volunteers in Somerville, Mass., ‘de-paved the way’ by peeling away heat-absorbent asphalt and replacing it with green space. In Baku, Azerbaijan, 200 people learned about global warming, participated in a citywide green treasure hunt, and at 10:10 p.m. turned off their lights for 10 minutes to save energy. In Iceland, participants ran around the city in their underwear chanting, ‘Keep the ice in Iceland.’ In Vietnam they planted trees; in the Maldives they marched. And much, much more.

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In Truckee, at the Shaw Family Farm, 50 people — both kids and adults — came to spread compost into the raised garden beds. Working with our friends, we dug and raked and spread two mounds of rich, dark compost that was made from 10 tons of compostable waste collected from our community over the past year. We harvested seeds so Barbara Shaw can plant them next spring. We layered wet newspaper and straw on the ground to prevent weeds. We supported our local farm — and moved our planet closer to 350 ppm.

After two hours of working, all of us kids sat by the chicken yard and ate a delicious lunch of garden-picked salad, couscous, pasta, apple pie, and (for some of us accidentally) pig liver pate. Luke, Nicole, and Will Shacter and Zoey McCullough thought the volunteering was over, but they were about to be challenged.

As they sat criss-cross in the shade, we pulled out our interview folders and handed them each a Kids Give Volunteer Challenge certificate, which asked them to commit to volunteering again before Jan. 1. 

At first, they looked a little confused and even hesitant, but when we told them they didn’t have to do it, their eyes lit up with excitement and pride. Luke said, ‘Why wouldn’t we do it?’ Then we realized they just hadn’t known where to volunteer! 

Well, we had ideas. The week before, we had gone around town asking organizations if they needed kid volunteers. The Truckee Donner Land Trust said ‘definitely;’ the KidZone said ‘for sure;’ a few places said ‘uhhhh, we’re good.’ And Phebe Bell, program officer at the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, gave us a great website that presents endless places to volunteer, handsontahoe.org.

Our friends looked at the list and on every face there was a different expression. Zoey was excited about the KidZone. Will wanted to volunteer at a pet store (even though we didn’t have that on our list). Nicole was still thinking.

Luke wanted to create his own volunteer plan around cooking.

Nobody made a decision, but everyone signed the paper anyway and committed to the challenge. 

We told them, ‘Go home and try to follow your instincts and volunteer somewhere that matches your interests with the community’s needs.’

Our plan is to follow our friends on their volunteer expeditions.  In our January column, we’ll write about their experiences. 

There are a LOT of kids in Truckee who want to volunteer this holiday season; not just the kids we challenged on 10-10-10.

If YOU want to be in this challenge, call (530) 412-0598 or email eleanoreann@gmail.com

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