Custom Learning Academy students discover the ‘gift of giving’ |

Custom Learning Academy students discover the ‘gift of giving’

Special to the Sun
Katrina Langhammer is a third / fourth-grade teacher at Custom Learning Academy.
Courtesy photos |

TRUCKEE, Calif. — EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is about children’s investigation into the “gift of giving,” with an introduction by Custom Learning Academy’s third / fourth-grade teacher Kristin Langhammer. The remainder of the article is a result of research and writing by the students.

Our CLA third and fourth-graders completed a community service project that holds personal meaning for each student. Each student wrote about a regional nonprofit of their choice, in hope that Tahoe/Truckee locals will contribute to one this holiday season. Last year was the first year completing this project, and all students found it to be rewarding and meaningful. Custom Learning Academy wants to continue this as a yearly tradition for our elementary students. Researching a choice nonprofit was inspirational to each student. Everyone learned they could give and spread happiness in many ways, not just in material gifts. This project also helps our amazing community programs as well as teaching our students about what the local community offers right in our own back yard. Custom Learning Academy plans to work with some of these nonprofits as the year continues.


Alexis Nulty

KidZone gets more than 22,000 visits a year and is located right in Truckee. It is a place for kids to learn, explore, grow and have fun. It was founded in 1992 by community members, parents, and teachers for kids to be able to play and discover. It is a great place to go year-round, especially in the winter. They have things like a playground, art room, science room, train set, blocks, doll house, hot air balloon reading area, airplane, and kid’s kitchen. I love the art room because I like how they have every supply you need and paint right there. They have classes that you can take too. I also like the experiments in the science room and going to birthday parties. If you donate to Kid Zone they can build a new and bigger building for playing, learning, and involving the community in better ways. Donations can also be used for art supplies or supplies for the science room. Please donate to KidZone today so a Truckee kid like me can play, learn, and go use our imaginations!

Visit Kid Zone at 11711 Donner Pass Road, Truckee,


Aylissa Kerr

Project MANA (Making Adequate Nutrition Accessible) is a great nonprofit in our area that needs your help, so that they can help give food to people who are hungry and help teach people about food. They are also a food pantry that serves the needy, ill, the elderly, and children. Project MANA distributes food, has community gardens, has a “Let’s Talk Turkey” event for Thanksgiving and helps people and families apply for SNAP. MANA also has a Cal-Fresh benefit program. Project MANA gave over 600 families turkeys on Thanksgiving last year. Your donation could help with food or you can also volunteer your time. Together we can fight hunger in our community. They are located in Truckee, Tahoe City, Kings Beach, and Incline Village. Thank you for your interest in donating your time and energy to Project MANA so nobody is left hungry during the holidays. Visit


Kalani Taylor

Trails and Vista’s mission is to create experiences of art and nature in the Sierra Nevada. Our class went on a field trip in September with Trails and Vistas and we learned about art and culture through nature. We went on a hike and stopped at different stations where we would do activities to learn about the environment each time. My favorite station was where we stopped and listened to a story about planets and galaxies. How can you help? You can donate your time and you will feel greatly rewarded. The program is always looking for volunteers to be a trail leader, trail hike sweep (caboose) participant, registration personnel, set up personnel. You can also help with their Halloween fundraiser in October next year or you can donate money anytime. Get more information about volunteering visit


Kevin Jeffery

High Fives is a nonprofit in Truckee that helps athletes who suffered an injury continue to pursue a dream in the winter action sports community. It helps athletes get better so they can ski or snowboard again. High Fives was started by Roy Tuscany when he suffered a devastating spinal cord injury while skiing. A spinal injury made his lower body paralyzed after he had high hopes of becoming a world class skier. People helped Roy get better, so then he decided to start helping more people. This led him to begin High Fives. High Fives has other programs like B.A.S.I.C.S. and is linked to the CR Johnson Healing Center, where athletes go to train. High Fives also has lots of events to raise money. Donate to help athletes get what they need and can get better or get back to skiing or snowboarding again. You can even donate at one of the events. Visit their website at


Elena Messer

The Humane Society of Truckee Tahoe is saving and improving the lives of pets through adoptions, community spay/neuter programs, and humane education programs. The society is always looking for positive people to help donate money, time, animal food, and even your old car. If you volunteer your time you can feed or wash animals, clean cages, give fun toys to the animals, and event just play with them. If you would like to take an animal home, go ahead and adopt one, or you can foster one while they are looking for a new home. Donate and volunteer so animals can have better lives. Visit their website at


Callie Ross

Help save lives, one animal at a time. The Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation is made up of a small group of volunteers in Tahoe. It helps animals that are about to be put down find a safe and loving home instead. If you want a dog, a cat or a bunny, go for it. You can help animals like: Dolce, Lilly, Rocky and even Mindy. If you cannot adopt, you can foster an animal for a short time instead. Buddy would love a foster family. If you want to volunteer there, you can help feed and clean the animals. You can volunteer for two hours a week, adopt one of these animals, or you can donate money to help the animals here. Saving an animal once in a lifetime is a great feeling. Visit their website at

Custom Learning Academy is located in Truckee. More information about the K-12 private school can be found at or call 530-587-5470.

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