Thursday, December 7, 2017

Updates on Project HAND

Over the past few months, Project HAND has gone through a lot of exciting changes. Every week we have attacked another step of the project planning process. Check out all of the details below!
Want to see where it all started? Take a look at the first program close-up:

Finishing up interviews

As planned, we chose several community members, businesses, and organizations to interview for our project. They included Dollar Bank, Miss Debbie from the CDC, Miss Katie from Hilltop United Methodist, and Miss Siena and Mr. Aaron from Hilltop Alliance.

Our questions revolved around Allentown:
How can we help Allentown? 
What was Allentown like when you were a kid?
What is Allentown missing?
What is the best thing about Allentown?
What does it mean to be a community?
Could you tell us a story about when you were proud to live in Allentown?
What are your favorite things about Allentown?

Miss Siena (above) and Mr. Aaron (left)
share their thoughts about how we
can change Allentown

Kiyannah takes a turn at asking Miss Katie a question

Miss Katie told us how much she likes events
in the community to get people involved

Each community member shared their thoughts about Allentown that made us think about our own project: How can we help improve the issues our neighbors mentioned? What else can we improve? To better imagine these changes, we drew pictures!

Community Mapping

A very common theme in our maps of Allentown
was litter and trash control
Because we already heard from our community members, it was time to think of our own ideas. We took some blank paper and some markers to create our own maps of Allentown. 
We drew and colored parts of Allentown that we like and even parts that we dislike. We then made them even better by imagining and drawing the changes. This helped us better picture how we want our community to look after we are done with our service project.
Zechariah had the idea to make a prison look nice
so that people inside will act better and people
outside won't think negatively about it

After we thought of improvements ourselves, it was time to combine our goals with our community's. We needed to brainstorm!


At this point, we needed to organize our ideas and pick a focus for our topic. Should we focus on food availability in Allentown, litter control, or something else? We decided to pool all of our ideas together to make our decision.

Using a method called "story-boarding," each member of Project HAND received 2-4 sticky notes. We took a few minutes to write an idea on each sticky note. The ideas varied from person to person, but they all were ideas for our Project HAND service project.
After we wrote our ideas on sticky notes, we mixed them up. We read each sticky note for the group to hear and then posted them on the white board according to similar categories. Whenever there were three sticky notes in one category, we named that category. The result was a large collection of ideas that could help Allentown.

Our ideas ranged across a lot of really cool projects!
Thankfully we were able to narrow our choice down to one idea

The team talks about all of the sticky notes
and chooses an issue to focus our service project on
The last step in story-boarding was expressing our preferences. Each of us also received two star stickers to place on the ideas that we thought would best help Allentown. Afterwards, we discussed our results.

Our discussion was very productive! We found out that all of us wanted to do a project that focused on trash, recycling, and composting in Allentown. While we each had different ideas about how to fix these waste issues, we all agreed that installing several trash cans, recycling bins, and compost containers would have the most impact.

A lot of us got excited about adding something to our community that will also serve our neighbors. We'll even get the chance to decorate the bins! Needless to say, we were excited and couldn't wait to get started with the planning!

Trash pick up and survey

With our project picked, we decided to walk the walk! Instead of just promoting throwing away trash and reducing litter, we went out in the community to act as examples and clean Allentown ourselves. Many community members saw us working, encouraged us and even thanked us!

Raymair was a part of one of the groups
that had collected the most trash!
Zechariah was on Allen Street and thought
that a basketball hoop over a trash can
would make kids more likely to throw their trash away

At the same time, we used this clean-up as an opportunity to gather information for our project. Each group had one note taker while they picked up trash. We surveyed our assigned trash pick up area to locate the current trash cans as well as think of good locations for new trash cans.

These questions helped us realize the importance
of adding more trash cans to parts of Allentown
When we all came back together, we reviewed what we found. We determined which areas needed the most trash cans and talked about cool slogans and features to make people want to throw their trash in our new bins. We think that Allen Street and Arlington are the best places for new trash cans!

Next steps

As you can see, we have done A LOT of work so far. In fact, we have done so much that we're taking a break from Project HAND. In the meantime, Miss Christa and Mr. Neal will be working behind the scenes to help make Project HAND a reality. In March, they will invite the rest of ALEC to rejoin them to make the project happen.

Until then, they will work on a couple of key points so that Allentown will see new cans come next year. The whole ALEC team has already met with key leaders in Allentown to start planning a big project like Project HAND. The Allentown Clean and Green Team, Hilltop Alliance, and a local compost extraordinaire are all helping us to make this project a great success!
Stay tuned, we'll be in touch about a Project HAND fundraiser coming to an Allentown after-school program near you ;)
We can't wait to take the next steps as a community towards what will be a great accomplishment for our students and town!

Come be a part of the anti-littering movement!

Please contact Mr. Neal at if you would like to learn more about Project HAND and how you can help.
We appreciate all of your support and cannot wait to share our plans with you!

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