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3rd-Graders Fundraise for School Dishwasher to Eliminate Styrofoam Lunch Trays

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

So goes the famous Dr. Seuss quote from one of my kids’ favorite books: The Lorax. Published 45 years, ago, The Lorax was a true product of the 1970s — the first generation to have real awareness that our earth’s resources are fragile and in need of protection. And thankfully, it seems that each new decade brings with it more passion among young people to care for our planet, too. At least, two 3rd-graders named Lyla and Katie from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, are certainly proving that to be true.

Lyla and Katie attend East Cooper Montessori Charter School, a small school that recently moved into a different building. Lyla’s mom Eliza, who is also the school’s art teacher, tells Babble that the building was built in the 1960s and does not have a dishwasher. Per the district mandate, school lunches are served on styrofoam and are disposed of daily. But one day, when their teacher taught them about how much styrofoam (which is non-biodegradable) harms the environment, the girls decided to take action.

Image Source: Eliza Hardman

Eliza tells Babble that when the girls asked Chef Sara, who runs the cafeteria, why the school uses styrofoam, she told them it was simple: “We don’t have a dishwasher.” So together, the girls decided to change that.

All East Cooper Montessori students must do community service and complete a “Peace Project”, and Eliza says the girls knew this would be the perfect project for them. She adds that Chef Sara called the district herself and got an estimate, and the brainstorming for fundraising began.

Eliza also tells Babble that the school is “very Earth conscious,” and already recycles and composts. So when Lyla and Katie brought their idea to school principal Jody Swaingan, she immediately expressed her interest and support. Eliza also shares that Ms. Swaingan is committed to this being a very student-centered project. (In other words: The girls are running the show.)

But that doesn’t mean the school can’t help. In fact, at the annual school auction this year, Lyla and Katie’s project was made the focus of the “Feed the Need” portion, in which patrons were asked for donations to further their cause. Eliza is happy to report that at the auction alone, the school raised a few thousand dollars.

But getting an industrial-grade dishwasher big enough to service the school doesn’t come cheap. The school has estimated that the total cost of the dishwasher — plus installation, electrical, and plumbing fees — is going to run them $10,000. That’s why they’ve set up a GoFundMe page, to help meet their goal and banish styrofoam forever.

As of now, the girls have raised a little over $1,500, so they still have a ways to go before they meet their final goal. But they’re not giving up any time soon.

When asked what sparked the idea in her daughter, Eliza admits she wasn’t surprised.

“Lyla is always looking for ways to help the environment and animals,” she shares. “She comes from a long line of social activism.” (It sounds like she’s off to a good start as a 3rd-grader, especially with a buddy like Katie by her side.)

Good luck, Lyla and Katie! And thank you for caring a whole awful lot and helping to preserve our earth for future amazing kids just like you.

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Article Posted 2 years Ago

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