Led by science department head Terry Stroh, the Green Eagles Club at Jacobs High School secured a grant to renovate a greenhouse atop the school and now use it to grow food for the needy.
For decades, the greenhouse was a catchall for all of the things people didn't want. That included old cheerleading uniforms, broken equipment and even embalmed cats.
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"If nobody knew what to do with it, it got dumped right here," Stroh said.
The $5,000 grant from the District 300 Foundation helped the 35-member club install a new ventilation system, repaint the greenhouse's interior, buy work tables and hang metallic curtains under the roof that let light in and kept temperatures comfortable. The club spent four days during the 2013 spring break cleaning, repainting and sprucing it up.
Before the renovation was completed, the club planted about 1,000 seedlings from the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Interfaith Food Pantry that included lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, beans, melons and potatoes. The plantings started in early March to get the seedlings "nice and big" for the food pantry in time to plant in May, Stroh said.
The food pantry has a greenhouse, but it isn't heated, which is why it asked the Green Eagles club to grow them, said Laurie Selpien, who runs the pantry's vegetable gardens.
Between its two gardens, the food pantry has donated 5,272 pounds of food this year to the needy, thanks in part to the Jacobs students, Selpien said.
The club is sharing the greenhouse with the rest of the school. Growing food for the needy has helped students learn valuable lessons about giving back to the community.
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