Feel-Good Fundraising: Summit for the Planet Walk-a-thon and Festival Offers Healthy Family Fun and Nonprofit Support

Garbed in costume-like fashions made from colorful plastic packaging, aluminum foil, assorted paper products, re-purposed fabric and more, about a dozen children, ages 7 to 17, strutted confidently across the stage during last year’s Summit for the Planet ‘Trash Fashion’ show. The show was a culmination of weeks of gathering recycled materials and designing wearable garments during school art classes and at home; and provided participants with a fun outlet for showcasing their creativity by using items that might otherwise have ended up in a landfill. 
‘The kids enjoy the hands-on 3-D design and construction aspect of the Trash Fashion project,’ comments professional artist and middle school art teacher Sandy Shaw. ‘We start with a class discussion about the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling – and recreating to help inspire students and get their creative ideas flowing. I want all of them to be excited about participating, and I offer the option to create a ‘Trash Fashion’ or a ‘Trash Sculpture’. It’s gratifying to see them move through the creative process of idea generation and having an abstract concept, to developing a 3-D physical piece of work!’
Catch the next Trash Fashion show and a whole array of family-themed ‘green’ activities at the upcoming 8th annual Summit for the Planet Walk-a-thon and Earth Day Celebration, on Saturday, April 26. Hosted by Mount Madonna School, this FREE public event combines a 5K fundraising walk-a-thon supporting local nonprofits with an eco-carnival, solar car races, music, wildlife, ‘green’ shopping, learning expo and organic foods. 
‘Trash Fashion creativity is a sight to behold,’ adds Trash Fashion emcee and first grade teacher, Cassia Laffin. ‘We’ve had skirts made from paint sample cards and plastic bottle dresses. Every design is truly unique. Students, let your imaginations soar as you deliberate on your new design! What recycled finds will inspire the inner diva in you’
Festivities will begin at 9:00am with walk-a-thon registration; the walk begins at 10:00am. The celebration will get underway as the walkers return, and concludes at 1:30pm.  
Celebration participants will spotlight sustainable ‘eco-living’ and education, and include a broad range of environmentally-focused businesses and nonprofits, from the Bat Conservancy of Coastal California to Allterra Solar, the Wildlife Education Rehabilitation Center (WERC) and Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society (BAARS), Sulphur Creek Nature Center, Mt. Madonna Stables and Friends of the Sea Otter. Attendance at this annual event has grown to some 500 people of all ages, from across south Silicon Valley and the Monterey Bay areas. 
The support of key sponsors for Summit for the Planet is very important for sustaining and growing this festival, and event organizers are honored that numerous local businesses are participating, including presenting sponsors, SunRidge Farms and the Michael Lee Environmental Foundation. Additional key community sponsors are: KAZU 90.3FM, MainStreet Media, Out & About magazine, and the Register-Pajaronian. 
‘Fundraising is an essential component of every school, public and independent,’ comments Pamela Blunden, Summit for the Planet coordinator. ‘Making that fundraising commitment can be daunting to say the least. Many parents and students can feel tapped out in asking family and friends to buy products they don’t really need or want.
‘How many times a year do you get asked to buy cookie dough, wrapping paper, magazine subscriptions, coupon books and knickknacks you don’t really want? Sure, you want to help out your child, the neighbor’s kids, the Boy Scouts, and every adorable child who’s out to raise money, but really why not just give a donation? Most people want to have something in exchange for giving money. How can we change this way of thinking of fundraising?
‘All organizations have a choice when it comes to fundraising and what they choose to do is a reflection of who they are and what they value most.
In addition to be a community-building ‘fun-draiser,’ Summit for the Planet also promotes a healthy life style. 
‘Across the nation there’s a visible effort underway to fight childhood obesity, cut back on sugar intake and limit the size of soft drinks, yet many schools continue to sell cookie dough and candy as a way to raise money. What message are we sending to our kids when we load them up with cookies and candy to sell’ adds Blunden.
This walk-a-thon is a great alternative to sugar-filled ‘caloric fundraisers’ and the wastefulness of excess paper products. Families are invited to join faculty, friends, and community members and spend time walking a 5K course through the forest.’
Depending on the number of walkers and amount pledged to each walker, organizations will have the opportunity to cover a hefty portion of their annual fundraising needs — without the hassle and expense of running their own fundraiser! There is no charge for organizations to sign up and participate; and organizations keep 70% of what they raise in pledges, while 30% is used to offset the costs of organizing and running the event. 
In talking with other schools and groups about fundraising, Blunden says she is repeatedly hearing how more and more families are steering away from having to participate in door-to-door sales. ‘With Summit for the Planet, walkers don’t have to go door to door! Instead they can utilize social media — or just make a phone call — to seek support from friends, family, or even grandma and grandpa on the East Coast. Pledging support is convenient and easy from any location via the Summit for the Planet website.’
Healthy, family fun-draising. It’s truly is a walk in the park!
Things to know when you go:
8th annual Summit for the Planet Walk-a-thon and Earth Day Celebration, April 26 from 9:00am-1:30pm*. Hosted by Mount Madonna School, 491 Summit Road, Mount Madonna. There is a $25 fee to walk and receive a t-shirt. The celebration is a FREE event. For more information or to sponsor a walker, visit: SummitforthePlanet.org and on Facebook at facebook.com/summitfortheplanet, or email Pamela Blunden at .
*Walk-a-thon participants must pre-register; registration begins at 9:00am; the walk begins at 10:00am.

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