Your chance to make a Green Effect!

Tricia Elisara’s husband, Chris, executive director of the  Creation Care Studies Program, a study abroad semester for Christian college students, was browsing the internet one day when he stumbled upon a unique opportunity: The Green Effect, a contest for environmental innovation sponsored by FritoLay’s SunChips brand and National Geographic Magazine, offers everyday entrepreneurs the opportunity to turn small ideas for environmental sustainability into successful projects.

“When Chris saw this contest, he said, ‘this is remarkably aligned with your little project.’ And he emailed it to me across the room,” says Tricia, who co-founded CCSP with her husband and continues to assist with it in addition to taking on parent volunteer responsibilities at her son’s Julian Elementary School in Julian, California.

Tricia’s “little project” was a  a “green classroom party kit” that could be reused each time her 9-year-old son Ethan’s class held a celebration. The kit includes plates, cups, and silverware, all packaged in a rolling container so that they can be easily transported to a cafeteria or staff room, washed, and returned to the classroom. The idea was popular enough with her son’s teacher and other parents that Tricia had made some early attempts at funding an expansion of the project, but none had succeeded.

But now, Green Classroom Party Kits is one project out of 10 finalists that could be a winner of the first-ever Green Effect contest. This kernel of an idea has been chosen as a finalist from over 2500 contest submissions, and it could win $20,000 in grant money that would allow it to expand into a viable, large-scale project.

Since entering the final round of the contest, Tricia, and the committee of elementary school students that helped develop the Green Classroom Party Kits, have become locally known for their efforts–even garnering cheers and some teary congratulations from community members at their local Fourth of July parade. Tricia attributes these reactions to the hope that a small project’s success can generate.

“So far,” she says, “it’s just been a neat thing to think that National Geographic and SunChips would foster a contest that not only results in this grant, but also, in the process, kind of re-inspires people that small things can go big, that they can make a difference, and that it’s worth showing up and participating.”

But what ultimately inspires Tricia to think and act so hopefully when it comes to creation is her joy in knowing that “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1).

“It’s a faithful way of engaging life for me,” she explains, “to be a part of community—be it school, neighborhood, whatever—and to be faithful to God’s calling to care for the poor, to care for neighbor, to live responsibly, to live justly, to live with joy, to live shalom. So this is just a little way that we’ve been involved in our community, and something we can do to live better.”

If Tricia and Ethan’s party kits are chosen as one of the five Green Effect winners, they will be honored in a National Geographic Magazine issue, and at a reception in Washington, DC. But more importantly, they will use their winning grant money to outfit every classroom in Julian Elementary School with Green Classroom Party Kits. Then they will present additional kits to other schools in their area, empowering the current student committee to educate and excite even more members of their community about living in responsible, and hopeful, ways. And the Green Classrom Party Kits initiative could grow from there!

But from now until July 20th, the final vote for the Green Effect contest winners lies in the hands of the public. Watch a short video and learn more about the Green Classroom Party Kits here, and then vote up to once a day for the next 12 days. Vote early and  often to have a great Green Effect!

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