Short Stuff: Giveaways, Competitions and Family Fundraisers | Children VT | Seven days

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  • HL Glenn Photography
  • 2020 Burlington Penguin Dive

Jump into a lake

Who, of sound mind, dives into an icy lake in winter? Children, families and groups who register for the penguin diving, an annual fundraiser for Special Olympics Vermont. The non-profit organization offers people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in sports activities. Teams of divers raise money for the cause, then line up along the Burlington waterfront, often in matching T-shirts or suits, for their turn to dash in — and out — of Lake Champlain. In 2020, Penguin Plunge events brought in $614,000, nearly 40% of the organization’s operating budget. Participants can also qualify for fundraising incentives including Skida products, Darn Tough socks and free stays at Burlington hotels.

Two separate dives are taking place on Saturday March 12 in Burlington and Saturday March 26 in Manchester. Find information and register on

— RC

Be Vermont’s Next Cabbage Patch Kid

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Nathan Gardzina - COURTESY

Do you have a ninth grader with a green thumb? It’s time to register them for this year cabbage contest, hosted by Bonnie Plants. The Alabama-based company will send attendees a cabbage plant, along with instructions on how to care for it. One winner in each state, chosen in October – after harvest – receives a $1,000 scholarship. Nathan Gardzina, a third year student from Malletts Bay School in Colchester, was the 2021 state winner; her whole class took part in the contest. Even with minimal gardening experience, he managed to grow a 13-pounder in a raised bed in his yard. He watered it daily. “Every day I looked outside and it got bigger,” he said.

The deadline to register is March 21. More details on

– CC

Recruit volunteers for the Green Up cleaning team

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Green Up Day 2022 Poster by Marina Hallisey, Grade 7, Shelburne - COURTESY

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  • Green Up Day 2022 Poster by Marina Hallisey, Grade 7, Shelburne

When the snow melts at the end of a long winter, it leaves behind all kinds of litter, especially along roads and in other public places. This waste doesn’t just look bad, it ends up in our rivers, lakes and streams. Thus, the first Saturday in May, known since 1970 as green day, volunteers from across the state spend a few hours picking it up. Last year they filled 41,019 trash bags and collected over 16,250 discarded tires. The non-profit organization that organizes Green Up Day relies on K-12 students to help spread the word and motivate attendees through art, poetry, jingles and videos . The winners of last year’s jingle contest were a team of fourth graders from Burlington who participated in the Good Citizen Challenge. Their band found these lyrics catchy: “Pick up trash, do the math, help each other out, it’s great. Pick up trash, it’s so fast, trash will soon be a thing of the past.”

The deadline to enter the Green Up Day Poetry and Essay Contest is March 1; the deadline for submitting video ads and jingles is April 1. Find rules and prize information at

— RC

Write an essay on Earth Day

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  • Olesia Lishaeva | The time of dreams
  • Earth Day Essay

Fifth and sixth graders: What do you like about the Vermont environment? What are your concerns about its future? Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan wants to know, in 1,000 words or less. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, his office held its second Earth Day Essay Contest for fifth and sixth graders. Why? Because the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Division enforces Vermont’s environmental protection laws. All submissions will be posted on the Attorney General’s website and entrants will be entered into a raffle for a virtual tour of Donovan himself. Last year’s entries included an essay by Senji, a fifth-grade student at Oak Grove School in Brattleboro who loves swimming and fishing in Vermont’s lakes and rivers and wrote, “Every time I go at my special fishing spot with my friends, it makes me feel more joy in my body than before.”

The deadline to participate is April 1. Find details and submission information at

— RC

Sleep in solidarity with homeless youth

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Spectrum Sleep Out - COURTESY

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  • Spectrum sleep

The end of March is not the best time to spend a night out in Vermont. But discomfort is kind of the goal of the Spectrum sleep. This annual fundraiser for Spectrum Youth & Family Services invites participants to imagine what it is like for homeless children and young adults, who endure these unpleasant conditions daily. Sleep at one of the public events on Friday, March 25, or in your own backyard that night or another. The money raised helps Spectrum provide counselling, housing and job training to approximately 1,500 young people and their families each year.

Sleep in on Friday, March 25 at Technology Park in South Burlington or Taylor Park in St. Albans. Find more details and register at

— RC

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