Young students build compost bins for the city of Charleston

Young students build compost bins for the city of Charleston

Today, we rally Team Bearcat first graders together to build compost bins for the City of Charleston. This is the final team to embark on their inaugural HCC volunteer event. All five other teams in the Pilot Program have completed their first volunteer event. Now it’s time these little Bearcats to start helping our community too.

We begin in North Charleston, with the Dunston Bears waiting eagerly in the hallway with Ms. Kilgore, anticipating today’s adventure. The bus arrives and spurs further excitement – many children have never seen such a bus, and certainly not at their school for a field trip.

Kids settle in for the first leg of the trip. Executive Director, Craig Morris, gives the background of HCC and explains to these children that they are part of the very first Holy City Children events. Students learn that their participation in this Pilot Program is paving the way for future students to be able to learn while giving back to the community. Craig thanks each of them for showing up and being a part of this. We need the whole community to make this happen, including first graders. Then, children thank their teacher and the bus driver for making it all possible.

helping feels good

Craig asks if any of the students have ever helped someone before. Most raised their hands. Some pipe up with answers: “I helped someone who fell down” or “ I help teach sports (to younger kids)”,  or one remarks, ”I help my mom at work”. Then Craig asks how helping made them feel. The resounding replies are “good” and “happy.”

Next, children are asked if they have ever needed to receive help from another person, and they nod in agreement. Then, they make the connection that when we help another (the environment, animals, or people), we feel good and so does that other. Everybody wins with service and kindness – we spread happiness to others and feel good doing it.

Craig mentions “Pelican Pride”, how to conduct ourselves with respect and kindness over the next 5 field trips, and why that’s so paramount to success. He then offers a temporary pelican  tattoo to the children as a reminder to maintain Pelican Price throughout the day.

team bearcats unite

Team Bearcats

As the bus pulls up to Drayton Hall Elementary, first grade Bobcats are patiently waiting in front of the school in a single line with their teacher, Ms Carroll. Students load onto the bus, meet their new peers, and learn that they will be embarking on these volunteer events together for the next several months.

On the way downtown to the Shaw Community Center, children unite in a team cheer: 

“Who’s that?” 
“Bearcat!”

learning about sustainability 

Today, students gather at the Shaw Community Center in downtown Charleston to learn about composting,  how it helps our environment, and to make a contribution of their own.

Environmental educator for the City of Charleston Parks & Recreation, Matt Olson, explains to the students why composting is important and how they can help reduce waste by putting organic materials into a compost bin rather than the garbage, kind of like recycling but with different materials. Children understand the basics, and are then split into two groups where more learning ensues.

Composting worms lesson
Group 1 – composting relay race

Students learn which items are safe to compost. This lesson is reinforced in a relay race with pictures of compostable items and “worms” made of pipe cleaner. Team members race to their compost bin, drop in compostable items and race back. Students are learning and getting to know their new teammates, and have some fun at the same time.

Group TWO – All about worms

On the other side of the Shaw Center, students learn about worms and their essential role in composting. Matt thoroughly points out all the details of a worm on a printed diagram. Next come actually touching the night-crawlers! Yikes!

Children squeal in fear at the thought of touching these slimy wiggly creatures, but soon the squeals are transformed into those of pure delight. Funny how something unfamiliar and “gross” can become quite the opposite when we open ourselves up to the experience. The very same children who were afraid end up bonding over their mutual fascination for their newfound worm friends.

building compost bins

Now, it’s time for kids to get their hands dirty. Literally. Children team up to build compost boxes to be provided at locations throughout the city. 

Children fill the bins with peat moss, dirt and shredded paper. Then, they take garden tools to mix everything together. To top it off, worms of course!

Students dust off their hands and stand back to admire their work. The looks on their faces are those of pride and accomplishment. They just made something that will help their city and both schools. They’ll return to their schools with compost bins and share what they’ve learned with other students.

Way to go Team Bearcats. Well done.

Charleston students volunteer with Holy City Children

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