The South Cumberland Community Fund reports that the four winning projects from 2015–2016 Make a Difference contest have been completed and plans are under way for a revised project involving all communities across the Plateau on March 4, 2017. Details for this event are still being completed, but organizers hope to involve area students, families, and community members in a day of service.
Last year’s Make a Difference contest asked students to consider, “If you had $1,000, what would you do to make a difference in your community?” Projects in grades K–4, 5–8, and 9–12 receiving the most online votes were awarded $1,000 to carry out their concepts. Winning projects were submitted by Coalmont Elementary School for both a school garden and creating Little Free Libraries, by second-graders at Sewanee Elementary School for a fruit orchard, and by St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School to develop signage for the state parks.
The CES garden proved to be a success by producing healthy and strong pumpkin and tomato plants while providing students an opportunity to learn new skills, have a space for sharing of knowledge, and enhanced students’ social growth.
“Giving the students an opportunity to display their project plans and share their ideas with the community was a great learning experience,” said project advisor Stephanie Smith.
Little Free Libraries are being put up at Coalmont, Tracy City, Pelham, and Swiss Memorial elementary schools. These libraries serve as a “take a book, leave a book” exchange. The students painted the boxes, as well as learned team-building skills.
The students participated in every part of developing the grant, giving them a better understanding of the process. Above all, the children were glad to be able to give back to their schools. “Helping children in our community have access books feels good,” said one student participant.
The second-grade class at Sewanee Elementary School used the funds to establish a community orchard. The students spent a day planting the orchard and learning from the University Farm staff about grafting, worms, and tree care. The successful orchard inspired the students to work together as a team to give back to their community.
“I did not know a second grader could make such a difference,” said one student participant. When the orchard blooms into fruition, it will provide fruit to the community.
St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School was awarded a grant to buy materials and create signs for the Fiery Gizzard reroute, including publicizing Monteagle Chamber of Commerce’s new map of the area. The Global Local Outreach group of SAS, led by its president, Vanessa Moss, worked with graphic designer Aaron Welch, as well as the local park rangers. Collaboration between the students, local residents and the state park allowed them to learn beyond the classroom and interact with community members.
“Working with the state parks was a wonderful time. It introduced me to a lot of great folks who do a lot to keep our forests looking beautiful and our people happy,” said the project advisor, Burki Gladstone.
Established in 2012, South Cumberland Community Fund works to improve the quality of life across the Plateau by increasing philanthropy and supporting leadership of the area’s communities, schools, and nonprofit organizations. Since its founding, SCCF has reinvested nearly $750,000 in projects that benefit the Plateau.
For more information about the South Cumberland Community Fund, go online to www.southcumberlandcommunityfund.org or visit their Facebook page.