Veterans benefit from Shaler Area's Seeds of Hope program
Shaler Area students in Seeds of Hope celebrated a successful growing season in their new permanent garden location with a ribbon-cutting event on Veterans Day last week.
Seeds of Hope is an outreach group of the high school Youth Advocacy League through which students provide fresh-grown produce to local veterans and their families.
Now in its third year, the program has grown to serve countless veterans in Allegheny County by providing them with more than 300 pounds of fresh herbs and vegetables this past year.
“We have a core group of volunteers who are here (working at the garden) every Saturday,” said Alexis Werner, a junior, who started the program.
The project took off this year when the students received a donated plot of land to establish a permanent garden on property owned by Brian Bartsch, owner of Brian Bartsch Greenhouses located off of Wible Run Road in Shaler.
The program also expanded to 11 cities in 10 states because of the attention Seeds of Hope received for being the recipient of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service Youth Service Challenge, which honors students who are benefitting their communities through service projects.
“To watch this grow from the beginning stages to what it is now … is incredible,” said Shaler Area Superintendent Wes Shipley, who attended the ribbon cutting event. “The student and parent support is absolutely incredible. You can't walk out of there without being proud of them.”
Werner said she would like to see Seeds of Hope continue to grow and spread the word of veterans' issues throughout the country because of the pride she and the rest of the volunteers get out of the program.
“They know they're doing a good thing and helping veterans,” she said.
Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.