Minot area Lions clubs are hoping to raise $150,000 to purchase playground equipment for the flooded Longfellow Elementary.
Josh Ressler, the flood recovery committee chairman for the local organization, said the group needs to raise $75,000 to be eligible for a matching grant from Lions Club International. Thus far the group has raised about $52,000 and needs another $23,000 in donations. Ressler said about $42,000 in donations have come from Lions clubs around the state and one private donor, a grandmother of a student at Longfellow Elementary, who made a private donation of about $10,000.
"The $150,000 sounds like a lot, but it's not when it comes to playground equipment," said Ressler.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • Minot area Lions clubs are trying to raise $150,000 to install more playground equipment at the flooded Longfellow Elementary, seen here on Thursday.
The entire $75,000 must be in hand before the group can apply for the matching grant. Those interested in donating can call Ressler at 852-3116 or 721-0092. Donations can be mailed to 2A Flood Relief Fund, P.O. Box 782, Minot, N.D. 58702.
The Lions had previously applied for a $10,000 emergency grant that was used to purchase 180 cleaning kits that were distributed to people living in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers. The group had set up a flood recovery fund, but decided it needed a specific project to apply the donated funds to. The Longfellow playground equipment was the choice made.
Tracey Lawson, principal at Longfellow, said new playground equipment will benefit the entire community, including children who live in the northwest Minot neighborhood. The school district plans to renovate the flooded school and will add a classroom addition that will nearly double the size of the school, to 550 students.
"We'll definitely need more playground equipment," said Lawson.
Ressler, who has a kindergartener at Longfellow, said the loss of the skating rink at Longfellow has been a blow to the neighborhood. More playground equipment will be a morale booster.
Currently children from the school are attending classes in a temporary addition added to the side of the school. A temporary gymnasium and cafeteria was constructed and will be ready for use when classes resume next week after the holiday break.
Ressler said the group has talked with architects about what playground equipment they'd be able to purchase with $150,000 and preliminary plans might be drawn up sometime in January. The playground equipment probably wouldn't be installed until the additions at the school have been built, said Ressler. He said it's possible they could call on volunteers from oil companies or in the surrounding community to help install the equipment. The existing playground equipment will remain on the playground.
A fundraiser with internationally known magician Jay Owenhouse will be held April 21 at 7 p.m. in the Minot Municipal Auditorium. Owenhouse's magic show also features two Bengal tigers. He has toured China and Japan and is currently working on a new TV series for the ABC Family Channel. He has been seen in the FOX TV show "Magic on the Edge." Proceeds from the show will go toward the playground project, said Ressler. Advance tickets are on sale now and can be purchased for $20 apiece by calling 1-800-779-8600. Tickets at the door will be $25 per child and $30 per adult.