ementary School will get a little greener in more ways than one.
On Thursday, Jan. 28, N.C. Beautiful and Coastal Federal Credit Union presented a $1,000 check to the school for supplies to start a small greenhouse.
“We appreciate you awarding this generous grant to New Hope Elementary School,” school counselor Kim Kelleher said. “The money from the grant will allow us to purchase the soil, pots, seeds and seedlings needed to grow the herbs, flowers and, especially, the vegetables. My hope is that these plants will flourish with our students’ care and their newly acquired horticultural skills. And we will share our vegetables with families in need during the spring summer and fall months.
“Furthermore, the entire mission of our greenhouse and growing plants will also be included in our daily news program as we educate our students about growing a garden, eating healthy and preparing nutritious meals and snacks.”
Kelleher said the school recently acquired a greenhouse through its PTSA when Dr. Heather Bower wrote a grant to Whole Foods Market.
“Knowing that we would be receiving this greenhouse I wrote a grant when I learned there was one available, regarding acquiring the materials to equip the greenhouse so there were things in it,” she said.
Kelleher then pursued the grant through N.C. Beautiful and Costal Federal Credit Union.
N.C. Beautiful Executive Director Steve Vacendak said New Hope is one of the 36 grants awarded around the state. He said there were 170 registrations for the grants. The Window of Opportunity Grant is available to teachers around the state and aims to promote environmental stewardship among young people.
Creighton Blackwell, Costal Federal Credit Union Vice President, Branch Network and Community Engagement, said projects like the one at New Hope fits in with what the nonprofit coop is all about.
“We’re an organization built on people helping people,” Blackwell said during the presentation. “With everything you’ve just heard here, I want you to simply remember that phrase, ‘People helping people.’ This is another great example. We’re here and always striving to support the teachers, support your parents, support you. You know why? Because are we all people? And do we all need help? So what better for us to be able to help.”
Principal Damian Powell thanked NC Beautiful and Costal Federal Credit Union for their initiative.
“What you guys are doing is making a difference,” he said. “This grant is a huge deal. ... We couldn’t do it without you. Now you can see your work inspired these kids and that’s what makes a difference.”
A couple of years ago, New Hope won the USDA fresh vegetables and fruit grant for a two year period. During that time, students at the school ate the produce during their morning smart snack.
Kelleher said the greenhouse, like the fresh vegetables and fruit grant, will help teach students about eating healthy.
“Our newly acquired greenhouse and the [NC] Beautiful Windows of Opportunity Grant will truly provide us with a future to look forward to with windows of opportunity, inspiring our students to learn, grow, flourish with wisdom, leadership, responsibility and community service,” she said.
Kelleher said she started a nursery already for students to learn how to grow plants and those seedlings will soon be ready to go out to the new greenhouse.
Kelleher said taking students outside and providing hands-on activities helps with individualized teaching.
“I’m the school counselor,” Kelleher said. “I have to think of everything and anything to help kids be successful. Sometimes it’s hard for some of my students in the classroom to be their best because they have a lot of other challenges that they face whether it’s learning disabilities, attentional problems, or other challenges that they’re facing in their lives, whether it’s poverty, loss of a parent or whatever the reason might be.”
Kelleher said she has contacted the agriculture department at Orange High School to see if students and staff would be interested helping to work on New Hope’s greenhouse.