Their piggy banks may be a little lighter, but students at Northeast Elementary School in Glenwood went home for the summer on May 23 knowing the pennies they had gathered and contributed will help bring new life to a playground for the children of Thurman.
An April 14 tornado left a trail of destruction in Thurman, severely damaging homes, vehicles and trees throughout the community, along with playground equipment in the city park.
Northeast Principal Joan Crowl said Autumn Clemmer, the parent of a Northeast kindergartner, and fellow members of the Glenwood PTA learned about the damage to the Thurman playground and approached staff at the school about initiating a “Pennies For The Playground” fundraiser as a philanthropic project for the final weeks of school.
The fundraiser was a success. On the last day of school, students gathered for an all-school assembly where they presented Mary Kesterson, a member of the Thurman City Council, with an oversized check for $1,028.75. Kesterson was visually taken back by the generosity of the youngsters. She invited them to visit the playground if they were to ever find themselves coming to Thurman.
Clemmer said she wasn’t sure how much money would be raised at Northeast, but she’s proud of the efforts of students, parents and staff at Northeast.
“I thought it was a huge success,” she said. “We did this right after the carnival at Northeast and a lot of families had just given to the school for that.”
Clemmer said she isn’t surprised that the Northeast students rallied around the playground project.
“All the kids play on playgrounds and I think they were troubled by the thought of the children in Thurman not having a playground,” she said. “The concept of not having a playground really resonates with kids that age and with parents.”
Students in Margo Young’s class, who raised the most money for the project, over $238, were given the honor of presenting the funds to Kesterson at the May 23 assembly.