(pictured above: Lakeisha Braxton (left) and State Rep. Evelyn Terry (right) pose with Luis Caraballo, Juanita Ramsey, Jelisa Workman and Carmen Toledo.)
Paper grocery bags colorfully decorated with environmentally-friendly images and messages by Philo-Hill Magnet School students were delivered to the Waughtown Street Food Lion on Wednesday, April 23 – the day after Earth Day.
“During the week of Earth Day, the customers, when they come in, they can select these bags to take home,” explained Juanita Ramsey, a Philo-Hill business education teacher whose seventh and eighth grade students designed the bags. “We’re hoping the message goes out into our community that we need to save our planet.”
Luis Caraballo, Carmen Toledo and Jelisa Workman joined their teacher at the Food Lion store – which donated plain paper bags for students to use as canvases – to deliver the artsy creations.
Carmen, a seventh-grader, said she hopes the project will inform community residents that “many of the things they do can harm everything around them and they need to be more cleaner about how they treat the earth.”
State Rep. Evelyn Terry was on hand to witness the presentation. Terry said she was delighted by the project.
“I love it because it resonates across so many important things about our world and also more than anything, we need to celebrate what our children are doing, what our teachers are doing and what our schools are doing to help, because we never seem to find the good in things,” said Terry, who represents District 71 in the NC House. “When there is an opportunity to tout what young people and what people like Ms. Ramsey are doing, we really need to find whatever way we can to celebrate that.”
Terry said leaders in the state and across the nation must find solutions to the environmental problems we face.
“These children will grow up in a world where oxygen will be a premium,” she declared. “Legislatively, we’ve got to do something to provide avenues for people to use renewable energy, rather than total dependence on fossil fuels.
Luis’ nautical themed bag featured the slogan –“Look for the future, save the environment.”
The sixth-grader practices what he preachers. He recently planted an oak tree at Salem Lake Park.
“I want to get involved in helping the environment so people can have things that they need instead of hurting the Earth,” said the biologist.
Lakeisha Braxton, the customer service manger at the store, said Food Lion was happy to get involved.
“I’m glad that Food Lion was able to contribute,” she said. “I think it’s a good start for the kids … to learn the importance of saving the environment and passing that information along to others.”
The project is one of the store’s many community outreach efforts, Braxton said. It hosted a Math Night for Hall-Woodward Elementary School students a few weeks earlier.
“We’re trying to reach out to our neighboring communities to let them know that we’re not just a grocery store; we’re here for the community,” Braxton explained. “It’s our community – we’re right here in the middle of it, so we’re trying to do our part.”
Since her sixth grade year, Jalisa, who is also a member of the National Academic League team at Philo-Hill, has paid homage to Earth Day by helping to organize a team of youngsters to clean up the neighborhood where she lives.
“Around my house, I pick up trash and recycle them if needed,” she said. “I was getting tired of the neighborhood looking so junky and trashy and then I figured out the three ‘R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle.”
The 14-year-old, who dreams of becoming a therapist, said she enjoyed the grocery bags project, which she characterized as “fun and educational.” Being involved in efforts where the community pitches in makes the work all the more rewarding, she said.
“It makes me feel proud of myself and proud of my community for helping me with all of that,” she remarked.