On November 7th, local communities came together for a community cleanup at Bowman Avenue. The Town of Rye Sustainability Committee set it up, and the Blind Brook Roots and Shoots club got many Blind Brook students involved. This community service event involved people from Port Chester, Rye Brook, and Rye picking up garbage from the whole street of Bowman Avenue. There were also other cleanups that took place at the same time as this one, which were located in Crawford Park, Disbrow Park, and downtown Port Chester.
Chloe Ng, the president of the Roots and Shoots club, stated, “It was something that happened at multiple sites on the same day at the same time. Everyone just working to clean up whatever was in their area, so I guess it was a way to get everyone involved and connect people from across the township.” The cleanup was very successful, as several hundred pounds of trash was collected across all the cleanup sites.
During the cleanup, everyone was required to wear masks and gloves to protect themselves, thus staying safe from the coronavirus. Additionally, the Roots and Shoots club hosted a celebration following the event at Crawford Park with refreshments offered to those who contributed.
The Roots and Shoots club has partnered with the Town of Rye Sustainability Committee for many events. A sustainable native bird scavenger hunt took place at Crawford Park, where they put up signs with facts about native bird species, and painted wooden birds as well. The Roots and Shoots Club also sets up fundraisers. Their first fundraiser was a bottle drive, in which they collected plastic bottles and exchanged them for 5 cents per bottle. The club made a total of about $50, and donated the money to an organization that plants trees. Last year, the club set up a candy gram fundraiser. They sold eco-friendly chocolate truffles along with letters to write to their friends. Chloe Ng explained, “It was a nice way to raise some funds and get people to send nice letters to each other.”
Another club at Blind Brook that helps students get involved in community service is the SADD club. SADD, which stands for Students Against Destructive Decisions, is a national organization. Each month there is a particular theme and the club conducts different prevention activities to help promote healthy decisions. Students can obtain community service hours by participating in the club, and the SADD club has set up a few events this year in order to help the community. In October, they collaborated with the Blind Brook Community Coalition to hold a drive-in movie. They promoted healthy lungs during the month of November, which is very timely since the coronavirus heavily affects the lungs.
There are many other opportunities for students to obtain community service hours outside of clubs. The advisors of community service for Blind Brook encourage students to create their own community service projects, which dont have to be connected to a larger organization. For example, assisting an elderly neighbor with chores would fall under this category. Students may also write letters of cheer to people in nursing facilities. This is beneficial during the pandemic, because it is harder to go out and help in ways that require contact with other people. Community Service Club advisor, Mackenzie Gasparini, explained, “If people feel like they’re constrained because of the Covid restrictions, we keep offering [the independent service projects] as an option.” Further information about independent service projects is on the Community Service Club Google Classroom page.
This year, there is a new process for submitting community service hours. The old community service website was replaced with a new one called Passport For Good. Once a student submits information about service they have done, a supervisor is automatically contacted for verification of the hours completed. Gasparini finds this a lot more efficient than the prior system: “Rather than me scrambling through 200 kids and trying to verify the hours, it does it on the backend.” Even with coronavirus restrictions, students have ample opportunities to participate in community service efforts.