Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- An after-school gardening program is doing more than just planting seeds this holiday season. Global Gardens is cultivating a sense of community at Tulsa's Eugene Field elementary.

It's the last session before winter break, but this Global Gardens workshop is full of activity. They're making wind chimes, new homes for their feathered friends and giving the gift of kind words to each other.

This is eleven-year-old Tarell Howard's first year in the program.

"Because I thought it would calm my nerves down, because I'm a hyper person," Howard, a fifth grader, said.

Through Global Gardens, Tarell has channeled his extra energy into gardening and art projects, like a desk, inspired by Van Gogh's Starry Night. He said the program has made a night and day difference in him.

"And I was kind of mad at people. Mad at the world," he said. "But kinda turned my attitude around, when I came into Global Gardens. Changed my grades."

It also changed his outlook. When he was traveling for Thanksgiving, he noticed a lot of homeless people. So when his gardening group started talking about goals, he thought up a box to help the needy.

So even in winter when the garden is barren, the ideas planted by Global Gardens are still bearing fruit.

"I just make this box and show everybody that Global Gardens isn't all about gardening. It's about caring for other people," Howard said.

Garden Educator Princess Hajjar said the truly amazing thing is, the children often are the needy. All of students at Eugene Field Elementary qualify for free and reduced lunch.

"We're such a blessed school and a lot of Christmas presents are being given to kids through various organizations," Hajjar said. "And these kids here they don't see themselves that way. They see that other people have it worse than them."

"Global gardens changed my life a little bit," Howard said. "So I felt like I should do something nice to make people recognize Global Gardens."

Tarell said he's inspired his fellow gardeners. Now they have a couple of boxes for the needy. They've dropped off two loads of goodies for the Salvation Army.