Rocco, the foot-and-a-half-long African lizard lazily sunning himself in a tank at Alley Pond Environmental Center, might get a bigger bathtub, thanks to the children of PS 188 in Hollis Hills.
The school was set to present a gift worth $1,200 to APEC this week so that the center can have its "wish list" of plants and pet supplies with money the children raised by collecting pennies and selling bracelets.
"They wanted to focus on things in our community," said Kathy Levine, library teacher at the school, who along with physical education teacher Mike Stokes serves as adviser to the school's student council.
The council voted to contribute to APEC and Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park because of the two institutions' focus on young people.
"It was unbelievable," said Levine of children and parents' enthusiasm for the fund-raising project.
The school raised $700 for each charity by selling friendship bracelets for $1 on March 28. Two additional $500 grants were secured for APEC and Ronald McDonald House through Common Cents, an organization that helps New York City schoolchildren pool donations of pennies for community non-profits.
The awards came after the school's successful penny harvest last fall that allowed them to donate holiday gifts for needy children and apply for new grants from Common Cents.
About 25 children were scheduled to help plant shrubs, annuals and perennials in Alley Pond Park using pails and shovels from the Keil Bros. garden center yesterday.
"That will benefit the wildlife in the park," said Aline Euler, educational director at APEC.
"I think it's so heartwarming and wonderful," said Euler. "It's so altruistic of the children."
In addition to hosting nature walks and children's classes on the environment, APEC houses several types of reptiles, amphibians and birds, many of them abandoned by pet owners who can no longer take care of them. The center recently drew about 120 children and adults to its annual Earth Day cleanup of park trails.
The animals at APEC serve as "ambassadors" from the animal kingdom to the center's visitors, said Euler, and their homes require water bottles, hot lights and rocks-all of which could be bought with the school's contribution.
PS 188 students are regular visitors to APEC's nature classes, and the center's staff have come to the school for outreach, said Euler.
APEC's outreach director Rosemarie Favuzza recently brought some of the center's turtles, snakes and frogs to the school for a thank-you visit.
Showing she is truly at one with the amphibians her center cares for, Euler had this to say of PS 188's contribution: "It gives me goose bumps."
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2003 Community News Group
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