OPES ambassadors plant first trees for Giving Orchard


The Ocean Palms Elementary School (OPES) Ambassador Student Leadership Team recently planted its first orange trees for the Giving Orchard, a project organized by the team in which fruit from the trees will be donated to the hungry and local food pantries.

Rising sixth grader Grayson Rigby completed the ceremonial planting with Mike Barwald from Flying Dragon Citrus Nursery, who donated the delivery, topsoil and fertilizer for the project, as well as his help and guidance in planting and caring for the fruit trees.

The Giving Orchard was the ambassadors’ final act of service before graduation and moving onto sixth grade. To raise more money for the trees, the team of 18 ambassadors baked and sold homemade goods during the past school year. Thanks to the donation of Barwald, there was bake sale money left over. The team has decided to donate those remaining funds to the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach to help fund the grant for music therapy benefitting special needs students at OPES and other local schools.

The Ambassador team completed several other projects last school year, including its donation collection of over 1,000 books benefitting a Title 1 school; making holiday treat bags for nursing home residents; and collaborating with Landrum Middle School and Ponte Vedra High School students to create homemade “thank you” meals delivered to local St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office deputies and fire and rescue stations.