Members of the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Center of Central San Jose, CA, have been tutoring the children at Voices Academy in Math and Coding for the past few years. The partnership between the center and the school has strengthened over time, with many other service projects undertaken for the benefit of the students. For instance, at the school’s request, Sai Center members helped the children build a vegetable garden and beautify the school grounds with flowering plants, a project that was initiated to commemorate Earth Day, April 22, 2022. Sai volunteers also organized many hands-on and fun educational activities for the children, centered around gardening and environmentally sustainable practices.

Sai volunteers brought several flowering plants in fancy pots to brighten the barren areas of the school. Truckloads of dirt and mulch were brought to the site the day before. Parents of the school children also donated saplings of many varieties of seasonal plants. Students were taught how to grow and nurture plants - transplanting the saplings to pots which were then arranged around the campus to beautify the school.

A couple of raised beds were constructed at the back of the school. In one of the beds, called “salsa in a box”, students planted a variety of vegetables, and took on the task of watering them daily. The vegetable garden has since been well taken care of by the students and staff. A letter of appreciation from the school staff read, “I want to share with all of you pictures of our students making and eating salsa with our school garden veggies! You did that! You created this opportunity for the students to learn to grow and eat organic vegetables! I am so excited to launch our cooking workshop during the school year and use the vegetables from our garden.”

Volunteers also set up various booths with educational and fun activities. The booth on “Planting” had about 100 tiny pots with succulents and dirt for students to take home to grow and nurture.

At the “DIY Liquid Hand Soap” booth, students made environmentally-friendly soap solutions by simply using everyday kitchen ingredients. They also learned how to make toys for pets using recycled cloth material at the “Pet Toys” booth.  Students who had no pets decided they would drop off the toys at a local animal shelter. 

At the 3 R booth, students had the opportunity to sort various items into mock bins labeled recycle, trash and compost. There was also a pop-quiz that students could test themselves and win prizes. Finally, at the “Nutrition” booth, students learned about the benefits of eating healthy and were treated to a delicious smoothie loaded with greens, fruits and vegetables.  

The event was a wonderful opportunity for the students and Center members alike to learn how to care for nature, to nurture an interest in gardening, and growing and eating organic food. It also gave the students an opportunity to learn various environmentally sustainable practices  through fun, hands-on activities. Mother Nature is our best teacher and both volunteers and the children experienced this while celebrating Earth Day!