Librarian Marsha Hupp listened to children around a table at the Mamaroneck Library discussing topics ranging from aid to the homeless, rehabilitation of animal shelters and the decline of native born plants in the area.
This was not a random gathering of elementary school kids but a meeting of the library’s Roots and Shoots program. The program is a branch of the international Roots and Shoots organization begun by famed primatologist Jane Goodall in 1991. The program encourages children of all ages to become involved in activities that aid humanitarian efforts locally.
The library’s branch of the Roots for Shoots program has been around for more than 10 years, Hupp said, and has worked on projects that span areas of service from working in animal shelters to fundraisers to help endangered species. Very often the children bring up issues that have far reaching effects.
“That’s the thing with kids. They pick up on these major problems and are more apt to come up with a global issue,” said Hupp, who is the Head of Youth Services at the library.
The group meets on alternating Fridays until Dec. 9, then break for the holidays. It is open to kids 8 and up. The framework of the program requires any chapter to do three projects a year that help people, animals, the environment or any combination of the three.
Most recently, the Mamaroneck chapter took on a project to help with the endangered Tiger population. The group held a fundraiser at the library’s grand opening over the summer and sold tiger bookmarks, cupcakes and raffled off a stuffed tiger. All the proceeds were sent to the National Wildlife Foundation. Helping animals has been a very popular issue for the program in its past as it has also had projects to save the polar bears and have made trips to the New Rochelle Animal Shelter and the Bronx Zoo.
The Mamaroneck branch is relatively small, with five or six kids attending each meeting, but that doesn’t discourage Hupp.
“It’s not one of those programs where we have overwhelming numbers, but that’s good because we have kids who are very committed to what they do and that’s what we want,” Hupp said.
At the most recent meeting, attendees proposed a wide array of ideas before finally settling on doing work with homeless shelters in Westchester County. Although no firm project has been decided on it gives a focus for the groups upcoming initiatives.
Regardless of what the group decides to do next Hupp feels that this group is one that kids should get involved with and one she hopes to continue down the road.
“We will do this as long as there is an audience for it,” Hupp said, “Kids should get involved because they have that energy and that passion and they really care They put in all this effort and they’re kids who really want to do something to make the world a better place.”