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The Change The World Kids Organization Gives Teens a Chance to Grow & Give Back

May 26, 2016 05:34PM ● By Finn McFarland
The Change the World Kids have maintained community gardens and donated hundreds of pounds of produce to the Woodstock Community Food Shelf during the growing season. In 2014, the team of Upper Valley teens opened the doors to their new root cellar, enabling them to donate produce year-round. This growing season, the group will maintain four gardens from which all produce will either be donated directly to the Food Shelf or be stored in the root cellar for winter distribution.

In 1998, Change The World Kids (CTWK) co-founders Phoebe and Nika Meyers, at just eight years of age, decided to help make a positive change in their community. They gathered a couple of friends and began doing small jobs around the Woodstock area, such as gardening and washing windows for an elderly couple. Today, the organization, which became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2003, has 40 members between the ages of 12 and 18 who donate hours of volunteer time each week. Current Woodstock Union High School senior and CTWK member Kristin Ramsey explains, “Change the World Kids offers an opportunity for teens to productively express themselves, learn vital life skills, and grow as persons.”

After a delivery of produce to the Food Shelf one afternoon in 2012, a CTWK member asked the staff what produce was available during the winter months and learned that there was little to none. The group of teens decided to figure out a way to carry on their donations throughout the year. After months of research, they decided to construct a root cellar in the hillside behind the Woodstock Elementary School. The surrounding hillside would maintain the proper temperature and humidity levels so the building would not need electricity.

With guidance from local engineers, contractors, and builders who donated their time for the project, the teens drew up plans, poured cement, and shoveled hundreds of pounds of gravel into the structure for the floor. During the winter of 2014, the Change the World Kids made their first delivery to the Food Shelf from their newly constructed root cellar.

This past winter, Change the World Kids donated produce from the root cellar to the Food Shelf every other week and donated hundreds of pounds of winter squash to the Food Shelf’s Thanksgiving baskets. The cellar also holds produce for Woodstock Elementary School’s Farm to School initiative, which works to provide healthy cafeteria lunches at the school.

To ensure that the root cellar is fully stocked for winter deliveries to the Food Shelf, the group gleans vegetables from local farmers at the end of the harvesting season and also relies on donations from farmers and community members.

“The Food Justice program has helped me develop a unique sense of what service means—it's not an action you do for praise or benefits, it’s a lifestyle and a way of thinking that has shaped and inspired me,” says Kristin, a co-chair of the Food Justice committee. The group is currently seeking both monetary and produce donations to maintain their hefty deliveries to the Food Shelf.

To donate produce to the root cellar, contact Change the World Kids at [email protected].

Donations of funds can be made by check or through PayPal (Change the World Kids). Checks should be made out to Change the World Kids and mailed to:

Change the World Kids

1046 Atwood Lane

Woodstock, VT 05091

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