Short Stuff: Contests, Competitions and Family-Friendly Fundraisers | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Short Stuff: Contests, Competitions and Family-Friendly Fundraisers

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2020 Penguin Plunge in Burlington - H.L. GLENN PHOTOGRAPHY
  • H.L. Glenn Photography
  • 2020 Penguin Plunge in Burlington

Go Jump in a Lake

Who in their right mind dives into an ice-cold lake in the winter? Kids, families and groups who sign up for the Penguin Plunge, an annual fundraiser for Special Olympics Vermont. The nonprofit provides opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to participate in sports. Teams of plungers collect money for the cause, then line up along the Burlington waterfront, often in matching T-shirts or costumes, for their turn to rush into — and out of — Lake Champlain. In 2020, Penguin Plunge events brought in $614,000, nearly 40 percent of the organization's operating budget. Participants can also qualify for fundraising incentives, including Skida products, Darn Tough socks and complimentary stays at Burlington hotels.

Two separate plunges take place on Saturday, March 12, in Burlington, and Saturday, March 26, in Manchester. Find information and sign up at

— C.R.

Be Vermont's Next Cabbage Patch Kid

Nathan Gardzina - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Nathan Gardzina

Got a third grader with a green thumb? Now's the time to sign them up for this year's cabbage-growing competition, organized by Bonnie Plants. The Alabama-based company will send participants a cabbage plant, along with instructions on how to care for it. A winner in each state, chosen in October — after the harvest — gets a $1,000 scholarship. Nathan Gardzina, a third grader from Malletts Bay School in Colchester, was the 2021 state winner; his entire class entered 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 sign up is March 21. Find more details at

— C.C.

Recruit Volunteers for the Green Up Cleanup Crew

Green Up Day 2022 poster art by Marina Hallisey, grade 7, Shelburne - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Green Up Day 2022 poster art by Marina Hallisey, grade 7, Shelburne

When the snow melts at the end of a long winter, it leaves behind all kinds of junk, especially along roadways and in other public areas. That trash doesn't just look bad — eventually it ends up in our rivers, lakes and streams. So, on the first Saturday of May, known since 1970 as Green Up Day, volunteers across the state spend a few hours picking it up. Last year, they filled 41,019 bags with litter and collected more than 16,250 discarded tires. The nonprofit that organizes Green Up Day relies on K-12 students to help spread the word and motivate participants through art, poetry, jingles and videos. The winners of last year's jingle competition were a team of Burlington fourth graders who participated in the Good Citizen Challenge. Their group came up with this catchy lyric: "Pick up trash, do the math, helping each other is such a blast. Pick up trash, it's so fast, garbage will soon be part of the past."

The deadline to enter the Green Up Day poetry and essay contest is March 1; the deadline to submit video commercials and jingles is April 1. Find rules and information about prizes at

— C.R.

Write an Earth Day Essay

  • Olesia Lishaeva | Dreamstime
  • Earth Day Essay

Attention, fifth and sixth graders: What do you love about Vermont's environment? What are your concerns about its future? Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan wants to know, in 1,000 words or less. In honor of Earth Day on April 22, his office has organized its second annual Earth Day essay contest for fifth- and sixth-grade students. Why? Because the Attorney General's Environmental Protection Division enforces laws protecting Vermont's environment. All submissions will be posted on the attorney general's website, and participants will be entered into a drawing for a virtual visit from Donovan himself. Last year's entries included an essay from Senji, a fifth grader at Oak Grove School in Brattleboro, who loves swimming and fishing in Vermont's lakes and rivers and wrote: "Every time I go to my special fishing spot with my friends, it makes me feel more joy in my body than I did before."

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

— C.R.

Sleep Out in Solidarity With Homeless Youth

Spectrum Sleep Out - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Spectrum Sleep Out

The end of March isn't the most enjoyable time to spend a night outside in Vermont. But discomfort is kinda the point of the Spectrum Sleep Out. This annual fundraiser for Spectrum Youth & Family Services invites participants to imagine what it's like for homeless kids and young adults, who endure these unpleasant conditions daily. Sleep out at one of the public events on Friday, March 25, or in your own backyard that night or on a different one. The money raised helps Spectrum provide counseling, housing and job training to roughly 1,500 youth and their families each year.

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

— C.R.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Save the Dates"