Sunday, June 29, 2008

ShelterBox Fundraiser at Queenstown Primary

Liam and I (Carolyn) have been busy the last couple of weeks. We are working on a fundraiser at his school, Queenstown Primary.

Over several weeks of soccer games, an idea developed as I chatted with another soccer mom, Rosie Thompson. Rosie was definitely the instigator, and the creative force. We were talking about the devastating disasters that have recently occurred in China and Myanmar. She said that she wished that she could help, but with young children jumping a plane for a far away land was not a possibility right now. I agreed. Then Rosie told me about a charity that provides emergency aid called ShelterBox.

ShelterBox assembles large plastic boxes that hold a 10-person tent, sleeping bags, a stove which runs on anything combustible, cooking equipment, water containers and tools. Each box is designed to provide basic shelter and supplies for a family of up to ten people for at least six months. The boxes are shipped anywhere, anytime as needed.

As we talked, I started to think about successful fundraisers at our previous school in Denver. I had a feeling that this ShelterBox program would capture the imagination of our Queenstown students. Rosie and I presented the fundraiser idea to the principal. He chatted with the faculty to ensure their support. Then, Rosie and I met with the senior students to share what we had learned about ShelterBox and to see if the senior students would be interested in organizing a fundraiser to raise money for a box. The students also expressed their worry for people struggling in the aftermath of recent disasters. Immediately and enthusiastically, they wanted to help. Two volunteers from each classroom were selected to assemble the organizational team.

From that moment, the students took over the project. First they named themselves The ShelterBox Kids. They worked most lunch times for several weeks. They made posters and donation boxes for all the classrooms. They broke into two groups. The first group contacted local media, including radio and newspapers, to describe their fundraiser and to ask for coverage of the event. The second group created an informational presentation that they shared with the entire school and many parents at a Friday Assembly. Doug videotaped the presentation. Now all Queenstown Primary students are asking family members, friends and neighbors if they can do a few chores to earn gold (i.e. $! & $2) coins for ShelterBox.

The community support in Queenstown is incredible. Ferg from Classic Hits 90.4 FM had the kids on the radio the morning after they contacted him. The newspapers visited campus several times to meet with the students. Parents continue to offer help. I have realized in a smaller town, the entire community works to support the kids. Everyone seems to be a parent, grandparent, aunt or neighbor of at least one student.

Liam and fellow students, Isabella and Merida, made an early morning visit to the radio station.

Click the triangle to hear the broadcast:

Below is a copy of the article in the Otago Daily Times and a photo of the ShelterBox Kids.

p.s. The blog entry is several weeks overdue because it required technical know-how beyond my capabilities. I have finally figured out how to upload audio and video, even if the presentation is less than elegant!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In loving memory of Quentin

Quentin, you were one of those rare people who didn't have a mean bone in your whole body.

We love you and miss you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Carolyn and Doug have new sport for their 40s - The Luge

Photo: Carolyn chasing Doug down the luge in Queenstown. Doug's exhibiting mature behavior appropriate for his age. He nearly ran me off the track and into the grass to pass me on the corner. Doug may be getting older, but he still loves speed!

Doug joins me on the other side of 40 today. Yeah! I think I am more excited than he is to have his company in the 40 and over club!

Luckily the snow arrived yesterday just in time for Doug's 40th. There's not much else I could give Doug for his birthday that he'd enjoy more than his first ski day of the year. Well, at least, nothing I'll mention on this blog...

p.s. I think Doug was happy to be able to walk when he woke today. He's recently joined an indoor soccer league after not playing on a team since college days at Rice. He and the other senior guy on the team both "offered" to play goalie as their lungs started to burn chasing the teenagers up and down the field. The other guy pulled his hamstring which secured the goalie position. Doug stayed on the field and scored a hat trick!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Doug almost gets dipped

Doug and I took some time out the other morning to help with sheep dipping. It was a messy job. Within a few minutes we were covered in organophosphate spray as the sheep leaped or stumbled off the ramp, splashed through the dipping trough and shook themselves dry in the every-ewe-for-herself mayhem. The first sheep sank to the bottom only to surface when the crowd thinned. The top sheep tried to run for safety across the heads of her comrades.

Doug and I alternated between two jobs. The first job was dunking each panicked sheep paddling through the trough. We had to make sure each sheep was completely submerged. No dry heads allowed. The other job was working the gates between the draining pens and then shooing the sheep out to the paddock.

At one point I heard a yelp in the midst of the baaing and turned to catch Doug sprawled over the dipping trough, his feet on the near side and his hands on the far side. He'd slip and almost dipped himself. The rest of the "professional" ranchers seemed to enjoy the spectacle as much as I did.

A little later we had a frantic moment as one ewe thrashed madly trying to unleash herself. Somehow she had gotten the rope on the plug in the bottom of the trough wrapped around her leg. By the time we freed her, she had literally pulled the plug on the dipping trough. All of us stood and watched the valuable chemicals draining away. There in the bottom of the trough was a little pesticide-logged trout. Doug ran and found a bucket in the shearing shed. As we refilled the trough with fresh stream water Doug caught one more trout. We were thrilled. We had wanted trout for our pond.

By lunchtime, Doug and I both remembered some pressing work that we needed to get done at home and said good-bye to the dipping crew. We headed home with our two trout sloshing in a bucket between my legs, thankful to only be occasional, part-time farm hands.

Early Exit

It was looking good for a Rice Owl victory over the LSU Tigers, with a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of 7th. Then LSU chipped away with single runs in the both the 7th and 8th. In the disastrous 9th, LSU put up four runs to secure the victory. There will be lots of inward reflection on this one as several of the LSU runs came on Rice's three committed errors. Also, Rice's esteemed coach, Wayne Graham, appeared to have made a bad decision starting the 9th with Cole St. Clair who had entered the game way back in the 7th, and then compounded it by leaving him in when he got into trouble. Well, there's always next year...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In a Hole

The Rice Owls baseball team has really dug itself into a deep hole. Yesterday that got their heads handed to them, 17-5, by the Fresno State Bulldogs, my cousins Curt & Quent's alma mater. Now in order to make it into the finals, Rice will have to win its next four games. Tomorrow the Owls start their climb out of the hole by playing Louisiana State University.

Go Owls!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Full Circle

It's been a year since we started this big adventure. Doug & the boys started things off with a road trip to Omaha to see the Rice Owls baseball team play in the College World Series. After an eight hour drive through cornfields, they stopped by the Omaha airport to pick up Doug's father, Don, and then immediately headed to the stadium to catch Rice's win over Louisville. To kill time before Rice's next game two days later, they hit the surprisingly excellent Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and the Strategic Air and Space Command Museum. The next game was against University of North Carolina, and resulted in another Owl victory. With Doug needing to get back to work, they all returned home with the hope of returning the next weekend to see the Owls play in the finals. Unfortunately, North Carolina beat them in the next two games and the repeat trip was never made.

Well, it's College World Series time again and the Owls are back. This is the Owl's third year in a row and it's fifth in seven years to make it to Owlmaha. We won't be making the long road trip this year but we will be following the Owls on Rice Radio.

Go Owls!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Alpine Aqualand

Finally the bell rang for our early, before swim lunch. I was one of the first people out of the cloak bay. I raced down to where the rest of the seniors (5~6 graders) were eating lunch. Everyone was talking about going to the new swimming pool 15 minutes from Queenstown, in Frankton.

By the time lunch was over I was bursting to go. Room 19 (my class) lined up to get on the bus. The drive seemed to take days, but we got there. The first thing we had to do before going in the pool was listen to the lifeguards talk about safety. Boring! Room 19 was the last class to be let in the pool too!

The pool consisted of 2 water slides, 1 fast and 1 slow, a fast flowing lazy river, 2 mounted water guns and in the adult pool a 20-foot, blow up, white sausage thingy-mabob. As there were 125-175 kids there in 7 classes, rooms 10 and 11 went on the slide for 30 minutes then rooms 18 and 19 (my class) went on the slide 30 minutes and, last but not least rooms, 20, 21 and 22 went on the slide for 30 minutes.

While rooms 10-11 went on the slide I raced my friends Sam and Mathew around the lazy river again and again. I found the way to go the fastest was to run with your legs on the bottom and paddle in the water with your arms. It was the most fun lazy river I have ever been on.

Time went so fast I could hardly believe it when the teachers said it was our turn on the slide. When I got to the top of the slide I hopped in the fast line. The line was so long I could not see the slide. Finally it was my turn to go! I held the bar and waited for the Go light to turn green. Suddenly it did! Whoosh, I flung myself into the cool water of the slide and zoomed down it. It was really fun. The beginning was light but it got fairly dark at the end. Before I knew it I was in the splash down pool at the end. I could hear someone screaming like mad behind me so I got of the way quite fast.

It was really hard not to run going up for my second slide. I decided to try the slow one, so I hopped in the slow line. It was slower but 3X as long. I managed to get 3 or 4 slides on each one before our time was up. Each time the slides seemed to get better.

After our turn was up I played with my friends Mitchell, Matthew, Sam and Yasin. We played around the gun. It was great fun diving down to come up and get shot with the icy, cold water of the gun.

I hadn’t tried the sausage thingy so I tried it. You had to get on it, which was hard because tons of people were trying to do it and it would spin. Once I almost made it but I splashed back into the icy water again.

Next thing I knew the teachers where saying “time to get out.” Nooooooooo. I reluctantly walked back to the lockers and changed. Soon we all piled on the bus and sped back to school.

I ran to my classroom, grabbed my bag and sprinted down to the parking lot were Pop was waiting to take me to soccer, but that is not what this story is about.

Typed and written on paper by Liam