Ultimate recyling project: Building a soda bottle classroom

What happens when Peace Corps volunteers, the non-profit organization, Hug it Forward and a bevvy of school children and teachers in Guatemala recycle plastic bottles and trash? A school classroom.

The collected bottles were stuffed with trash and used to form the walls for a classroom addition at a school in Granados, a small mountain town in the Baja Verapaz region of the country. Amazing.

This video shows how the project was done. The music is a fitting addition to a project that brought the widest smiles to dozens of faces.

Imagine what might happen if similar projects happened on a massive scale world wide. There are a lot of plastic bottles on the planet.

For another version of a building project that fits into travel and activism, check out this gallery on house building with teens, college students and adults in Mexico through Amor Ministries, another non-profit that welcomes volunteers.


The Galavanting Girls help the children of Roatan

Travel writer, founder of The Galavanting Girls, and creator of the Travel Blog Exchange conference, Kim Mance will soon be setting off on a cruise to visit, among other places, the island of Roatan in Honduras. Rather than spend her time in port sunning on the beautiful West Bay or browsing the new shops at the Port of Roatan, Kim and her crew decided to do something a little more constructive with their time.

While their Princess Cruises ship is in port on November 11, Kim and the other Galavanting Girls will head to Elfrida Brooks School in the area’s capital city of Coxen Hole. Honduras is the second-poorest Caribbean nation (behind only Haiti) and the school, which educates 180 children, is desperately in need of funding.

The Galavanting Girls will be spending the day at the school and dropping off supplies they’ve rounded up. They’re also taking online donations, as little as $5 per person, through the Roatan Children’s Fund on the secure First Giving website. The Girls have already raised $550 for the project, more than double the goal. They’ll be videotaping their visit to the school and will post the footage on their website after November 11.

Disney offers free park admission to volunteers

Volunteer one day of your time next year, and you could receive a free day of admission at a Walt Disney theme park in return. The Disney company has announced that one million people who volunteer with the HandsOn Network can get into any Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, or into Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, for free in 2010 through the “Give a Day, Get a Disney” promotion.

The HandsOn Network works with 70,000 agencies across the country, including Habitat for Humanity and local food banks and churches. After volunteers gets their service verified with the agency, they get a voucher for free admission. The work must be done in 2010 and the voucher needs to be used by December 15 of that year. Volunteers must be 18 or older to sign up, but kids ages 6-17 who complete volunteer work with their parents can also get into the park free.

Those who have multi-day annual passes can use their free-day voucher for up to six FASTPASS tickets that will get them to the front of the line for certain rides. Only residents of the US, Canada and Puerto Rico are eligible to redeem the free admission vouchers.

This isn’t the only deal Disney has offered recently. All of the US Disney parks offered visitors free admission on their birthday this year, and many Disney resorts offered “stay two nights, get a third free” promotions as well.

Voluntourism in Costa Rica doesn’t have to be expensive

Tropical Adventures is making it pretty easy for travelers to save the world. The company’s new Cultural Encounter Package offers a six-night/seven-day package at a steep discount of 45 percent. The first two nights are at the historic Hotel Don Carlos, with the other four in the Bamboo Cultural Center’s rustic accommodations in the Talmanaca Indigenous Region. The package includes all meals and some snacks, as well as upgraded transfers to all locations.

Once in Costa Rica, you can take advantage of volunteering opportunities at an elementary school, retirement home and indigenous cultural center. Also, a five-hour local farm tour is available, where you’ll get the chance to see exotic and unusual frogs, birds and butterflies, among other animals.

Based on double-occupancy, the trip costs $899, and the package is good through the last day of February next year.

Volunteer and earn a free stay at any Sage hotel

Volunteer one day to a registered 501C3 nonprofit organization and your next stay at a Sage Hospitality property could be free. The hotel group is offering a limited number of free rooms at each of its 53 hotels around the country to those who can verify – with a signed letter from the organization – that they have donated eight or more hours of their time to charity.

Under the “Give a Day, Get a Night” promotion, those who miss out on the complimentary stay will still get 50% off the published room rate. Volunteer hours must be completed by December 18, 2009, and the promotion ends on December 20. Complimentary rooms must be booked 48 hours prior to arrival and taxes still apply. A guest is only allowed one free stay at each Sage hotel for the duration of the promotion.

That’s not the only deal Sage is offering. Heroes (active and retired military personnel and first responders) and educators (active and retired teachers and school administrators) also receive 50% off their stays through the end of the year.