Miller Elementary School in Tomah received a significant donation on Thursday from a sand mining company, which will help update a playground and make it safer for kids of all ages and abilities.
Unimin donated $20,000 to the school's playground project—helping the school inch closer to their $100,000 goal.
Since spring, Miller Elementary's P.T.O. Board has been working to raise the money for a playground project, as the money would pay for new playground surfacing, updated playground equipment, and more swings.
“This will be an opportunity to increase accessibility for students, especially students with special needs,” Miller Elementary School Principal Tom Whitford said.
With Unimin's donation, the School's P.T.O. Board has now raised roughly $43,000. “The big key is raising all the funds to do it,” Whitford said. “That's what this big drive has been for, is to raise the funds needed to build a new playground."
Unimin Plant Manager Chris Axness said donating to the project was the perfect opportunity to help not just a school, but an entire community. “We thought this was a real perfect opportunity to donate. We're proud to be part of a project like this,” Axness said.
The $100,000 would replace wood chips on the playground with Safe Tile flooring. "They're going to put in a synthetic surface which is safer for children,” Axness said. “Handicap children, for example, a child in a wheelchair, will be able to access equipment, that currently a child in that situation can't access."
According to P.T.O. Board Co-Chairperson Michelle Granahan, the playground project has been in talks for years, but she said now it's time to aggressively move forward with the project. “We just decided now is the time,” Granahan said. “Our board, we are all going to be here for several more years to help build up the nest-egg that will lead for the next group of P.T.O. families, so this was the best time for us take on this project."
Granahan assures though that the project isn't just for Miller Elementary School students, but for the community—and Miller Elementary deserves to have this. "We are where children come to play--evenings, weekends, and obviously during the school day,” Granahan said. “Magic happens everyday in our building. We have tremendous teachers and staff, our principal is wonderful and our families are great. Sometimes, the outside doesn't see the magic that happens within our walls everyday."
When Miller Elementary School student Lilly Joyce heard about what the school's P.T.O. Board was working to accomplish, she held a garage sale. Although she had donated $67 from the sale to the project, a small sliver of proceeds, Granahan said it's little donations like the one that Joyce provided which proves how much Miller students want an updated playground—and how even the smallest donations can make a difference.
Principal Whitford said the school hopes to have the rest of the money raised by fall.