Former ABC 7 Cool Kid Jordan Elist helps build community garden in Chinatown

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Gathering together as a community, dozens of volunteers spent their Saturday helping to create a brand-new garden at Castelar Street Elementary School in Chinatown. (KABC)

Dozens of volunteers spent their Saturday helping to create a brand new garden at Castelar Street Elementary School in Chinatown.

"I love envisioning things in my mind and seeing them come to life," Jordan Elist said.

He's one of the masterminds behind the project and is the founder of the nonprofit Save a Bottle, Save a Life. In 2010, Elist was featured as a Cool Kid on ABC 7.

The L.A. native now works in finance in San Francisco, but is still passionate about the nonprofit and giving back to his hometown.

"We were looking for the highest return on investment, and in terms of impact, and I thought a community garden would be just the way to do that. It will last for many years to come," he said.

So on Saturday, volunteers fanned out across the schoolyard - building garden beds, an irrigation system, climbing cages and picnic tables. The project is part of a partnership with EnrichLA, an organization on a mission to build "a garden in every school."

"The idea is to 'green' these schools up a little with edible gardens, and for kids to see stuff growing - tomatoes, basil, carrots, everything. It's just making schools a little bit softer," said Tomas O'Grady, EnrichLA's executive director.

EnrichLA has already created more than 170 community gardens - providing fresh produce and opportunities for education.

Parents like Jasmine Wang said this is a great opportunity for kids. Her 7-year-old son will learn from the garden for the rest of his time in elementary school.

"I hope this will teach him what it means to be a part of a community and self-sustainability, and how it's important to rely on each other and ourselves to grow our own and support ourselves," Wang said.

The garden will serve nearly 700 students, all of whom will help plant seeds during class on Monday.

For more information on EnrichLA and Save a Bottle, Save a Life, you can go to enrichla.org/ or facebook.com/saveabottleandlife/.
Related Topics:
societygardeningvolunteerismcool kidscommunityeducationchildrenChinatownLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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