Lakeside Primary School student Kathryn Loper was happy Friday that she had a Mother’s Day gift ready for her mom.
Kathryn, 9, and other third-graders ended their week by planting tomato seedlings into plastic cups, both provided by the Rotolo’s Pizzeria Homegrown Love for Mom program.
The students lined up to pour potting soil into a recycled Rotolo’s plastic cup.
“It was really nice for them to let us do this for our moms,” Kathryn said.
She said her mom will probably add the tomato plant to her vegetable garden.
Kathryn was looking forward to the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches she will eat thanks to the project.
Teacher Brandi Anseman registered online for the project in hopes of reinforcing lessons in the plant life cycle taught earlier in the year.
The project, she said, also adds a lesson in the importance in recycling.
“This project really brings all those lessons in recycling, plant life and photosynthesis together,” she said. “They really learn by doing.”
Kathryn was one of more than 90 third-grade and special-needs students to take part in the planting at Lakeside.
In celebration of Mother’s Day, thousands of schoolchildren in communities where Rotolo’s Pizzeria operates had the chance to gift tomato plants to their moms, thanks to the Homegrown Love for Mom program put on by the Louisiana-based restaurant franchise.
Earlier in the week, Chad Calonge, owner of stores in Ascension and Livingston parishes, visited Lakeside and Oak Grove Primary School to deliver soil, plastic cups and tomato plants. More than 160 plants were delivered to Oak Grove.
He said the company has supported a program to use the company’s recycled cups for five years.
“It’s evolved into the Homegrown Love for Mom campaign and the response has been great,” he said.
Rotolo’s has been buying back its plastic cups from customers in April during National Recycling Month. The cup buyback program offers Rotolo’s customers free pizza in exchange for their Rotolo’s cups.
In its fifth year, the success of the Rotolo’s Homegrown Love for Mom program has grown significantly, generating more than 10,000 recycled cups, which were repurposed as environmentally friendly Mother’s Day gifts for moms living in the communities that Rotolo’s serves.
Anseman said her students tried to grow tomatoes from seed earlier in the year but the project didn’t got so well.
“So, we’re hoping they have better luck with the plants donated by Rotolo’s.”
“We value and appreciate our customers, and we demonstrate that through community involvement,” said Mitch Rotolo, founder and CEO of Rotolo’s Pizzeria, in a news release.
Nearly 10,000 students at 50 participating schools received the tomato plants from April 28 to May 9, just in time for Mother’s Day.
Each recycled cup included a sticker with planting and care instructions.
Teachers Mona Ashley, Donna Gainey and Anseman gathered their students Friday for the mass planting at Lakeside under dark clouds and the threat of rain.
“We had to go with plan B because of the weather,” Anseman said. The school had lost electricity for a time earlier that day as storms rolled through the area.
Ashly Padron, 9, was one of the first in line to fill her cup with soil and plant the seedling.
She waited as the teachers set out the trays of tomatoes and placed the bags of soil on tables.
Then, the planting began.
“They really don’t mind getting dirty because it’s for their moms,” Anseman said as she helped Ashley place the plant in the cup.
Jamaree’ Smith and classmate Jaydan Guidry posed for pictures with their plants after the planting.
“This is so cool and Mama is going to love it,” Smith said.