BEND, Ore. - Pay it Forward is NewsChannel 21's segment bringing awareness to the good things happening around us every day here in Central Oregon. This month's unsuspecting "target" is dedicated fifth-grade teacher Sandy Phillips – not for her classroom activities, but her efforts to support kids outside of the classroom.
Barbara Brennan's daughter grew up with Carly, Phillips' late daughter.
"I've known Sandy for a long time, and we've done a lot of science education together," Brennan said. "She's so passionate about getting kids outside and into the forest, and learning hands-on."
"Carly's Kids" was formed as a non-profit in honor and memory of Carly, who passed away in 2011.
Brennan and Robi Phinney independently nominated Phillips to be the next Pay it Forward recipient.
So I traveled to Ensworth Elementary School recently to provide the two ladies with $500 in crisp $100 bills, on behalf of CoEnergy Propane and Mid Oregon Credit Union.
"Carly's Kids" is dedicated to ensuring that all Bend-La Pine fifth-graders have the opportunity to discover the inspiration of an outdoor education program.
"When you get those kids out there, and you see them – they come alive," Phillips said. "And some kids that maybe don't do so well in the classroom get out there in that field-based experience – they come alive. They are, all of a sudden, the leaders in the class."
The first year, 38 Ensworth students went to the Camp Tamarack Outdoor School, where Carly once worked. Last year, Phillips said, they were able to add Juniper Elementary.
"Our kids helped pay for those kids to go, so we took 68," she said. "This year we're funding 518, I think it is, from Juniper, Bear Creek, Ensworth, Lava Ridge, Buckingham, La Pine, Rosland and Pine Ridge schools."
Phillips said the $500 from Pay it Forward will "go directly to help kids to be able to go to Camp Tamarack for Outdoor School."
If you would like to learn more about Carly's Kids, and how you might help, visit www.carlyskids.org – and go to our Pay it Forward page at KTVZ.COM to see past stories and nominate others you'd like to Pay it Forward to.