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Visiting CSU Students Give Queen Louise Home a New Garden

The Queen Louise Home for Children got a very welcome donation this month, from a very unexpected source.  California State University (CSU) San Marcos students taking Professor Bonnie Bade’s anthropology course ‘The Environment, People and Culture of St. Croix’ planted a garden for the children of the Queen Louise Home, with the help of a few of the residents.  Like me, you may be wondering how this donation came about…enter new St. Croix residents Lance and Shannon Hayes.  Lance graduated with a degree in Marine Biology, while Shannon majored in Anthropology from CSU.  When the couple moved to St. Croix in September, their goal was to start a ‘study abroad’ program for college students to experience St. Croix and to help out the island’s community, so they started by coming up with the program and pitching it to Professor Bade at Shannon’s alma mater, CSU.

While on the island, the CSU students participated in a variety of historical tours, lectures, community service projects, but this particular day they went to the Queen Louise Home for the sole purpose of planting a garden for the staff to use in their meal preparations for the kids.  In fact, Shannon and Lance met with the Queen Louise Home kitchen staff prior to planting the garden in order to determine what vegetables and herbs they would utilize the most so they could plant the garden accordingly.  The CSU students, whose majors vary from things like Economics and Communications, to Medical Anthropology, and Psychology, dug right into the project…literally.  With the help of some of the kids from Queen Louise, the students cleared the site for the garden, prepared the soil, and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkin, bell peppers, basil, thyme and more.  One of the Queen Louise residents had started her own small planter box with an avocado and two sugar apple trees which the students helped her to transplant into the new garden.

It was incredibly inspiring to see the students interacting one-on-one with the resident children, helping them get involved in planting the garden, and talking to them about growing their own food.  The children had a great time digging in the dirt, playing with the multitude of ‘critters’ they found, and getting that much needed one-on-one attention.  The students all seemed to be having a great time as well, and I hope they found the experience rewarding.  The director and staff of Queen Louise were thrilled with both the garden itself and the additional donation of toys, games, coloring books and flashcards the CSU students brought with them. 

When I spoke to the students about their ‘study abroad’ course I got almost the same answer from all of them – they were taking the class to travel to somewhere they had never been, and to get some hands-on learning outside of the classroom where they could also help out the community.  Whatever the reason, thank you to CSU and Professor Bonnie Bade for putting together a class to specifically study the history, culture, ecology, archaeology and economy of St. Croix, and thank you to the CSU students for all of their hard work, volunteered time, and support of the St. Croix island community.  Thank you also to Lance and Shannon Hayes for having the vision to bring these students to St. Croix to experience the island’s culture and history, as well as providing invaluable community service. GoTo applauds your efforts to promote the island of St. Croix and to help the community causes and organizations!

– Jennie Ogden, Editor

Editor’s Note:  If this post has moved you to donate goods or volunteer some of your time to the Queen Louise Home for Children, please contact Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands (LSSVI) at (340) 772-4099. If you are interested in donating funds to help the Queen Louise Home, please click here to visit the LSSVI website.