All-Lights Village Project Reinvigorates High School Environmental Club

Eric Olsen
January 20, 2014

5 years ago in Lynnwood, Washington, a group of high school students formed an environmental student group. The goal was to empower fellow students through environmental awareness and public service. By addressing the needs of their community in facing environmental challenges, the group had hopes of engaging their community in projects, establishing a sense of ownership, cooperation and stewardship.

While there has continued to be a core group of students that believe in the mission of the student group, as the founding leadership graduated, the students found themselves having to regroup and refocus. The group found themselves having to reevaluate their goals as a student organization and take their plans to the next stage of execution.

After realigning themselves with the original mission of empowering their fellow students and creating a culture of service and ownership, the group was ready to embark on the new year. Although their first project of the year, a school ground clean up, wasn’t without its obstacles, co-president Takae Goto said it was inspiring and successful.

Even with inclement weather, illness and schedule changes, those who turned up were enthused and ready to take action. Takae said that students took initiative and showed a real desire to serve their school community. Seeing the determined students and eventually a tripling of membership, the group’s leadership was fired up to continue building on this new found momentum.

However, as determined as the leadership was, they found it hard to think of meaningful projects that make a difference. That is, until they connected with All-Lights Village Project. The mission and the efforts of AllLights was the extra boost that the group needed.

With a clear sense of direction, the group worked with local youth volunteer coordinator, Maruko Sato, and began planning a bake sale to raise funds for the AllLights effort to provide solar powered lights. The group heard a presentation about AllLights and set out to raise funds. Students took initiative by organizing the baked goods, going to local businesses to ask permission and by taking on responsibility for each other during the bake sale.

Throughout the day, the volunteers took shifts at the local QFC grocery store and the local Bartell’s Drug store. They met people who were not only interesting in the AllLights cause but also the overall effort of the student group.  One volunteer recalls meeting a grandmother who was very proud of the group. She said while the current youth are often stereotyped as being drug users and truant students, the volunteers were actively working to changing that stereotype through their bake sale. She went on to say that it takes the efforts of individuals to change society’s negative perception of a certain generation, groups or associations.

At the end of the day the group made over $600, providing 14 new lamps to a rural Filipino community and gained a new sense of team and connection with a world that is much larger than their own community.  They were able to set goals and meet those goals, leaving the group with a sense of accomplishment and hope for the projects that they will plan in the future.

Feeling a new found connection with the Philippines, the group is already planning to host a school supply drive to further aid the Philippines in their recovery. They plan on having the supply drive and then on MLK Day, coming together to assemble the packages to be shipped to the Philippines, so stay tuned!

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