Club presents first donation to OMES for new playground equipment

NORTH SHELBY – The fundraising efforts of a local service club will help Oak Mountain Elementary School replace its outdated playground equipment, an improvement the school has needed for a long time.

The Kiwanis Club of Indian Springs Village chose the OMES playground as its 2020-2023 Signature Project, an estimated $300,000 project to be completed in three phases.

“OMES has always been surrounded by people who love the children and support the schools,” OMES Principal Debbie Horton said. “The Kiwanis Club is just another example of outstanding community partnerships. The Kiwanis Club has pledged support for our school over the next two years to enable us to replace our 20-year-old playground with new equipment that will be wheelchair accessible, allow for parallel play and engage the physical needs of our young students.”

Jake Guercio, president of the Kiwanis Club of Indian Springs Village, said the club maintains open communication with local school principals and guidance counselors regarding any needs the schools have.

Last year, the club raised money to purchase Chromebooks for students at Oak Mountain High School.

When the club learned of the playground equipment situation at OMES, members decided to make it their 2020 project.

“Parts of it had been condemned,” Guercio said of the equipment. “We said, yes, that will be our project for this year.”

The club reached out to local leaders, including Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks, Shelby County Board of Education Vice President David Bobo, Shelby County Manager Chad Scroggins and Shelby County District 7 Commissioner Lindsey Allison, about the project and received their support.

“They were so quick to say if the community is going to get behind it like that, we’re going to help,” Guercio said. “Within a month of our meeting, the county had already come and taken down the old swing set. I’m proud and happy we had our communication and our ability to work with our county government and school system. We are so fortunate.”

The club kicked off fundraising efforts with a pancake breakfast that drew more than 300 attendees.

“We had so much cooperation and involvement from not only the elementary school, but all the schools pitched in as they did when we did the Chromebooks,” Guercio said. “It’s heartwarming to see the community pull together when we have a need. It’s all about the children and the community.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Guercio presented a $14,500 donation check to Horton from the pancake breakfast.

“It’s a big project, and we’re still asking for all the help we can get and still raising more funds for it,” Guercio said, noting $14,500 is the first installment.

Horton said she is thankful to work in a community that supports efforts to bring the best educational opportunities to students inside and outside the school.

In a couple of months, OMES will kick off a fundraiser called “Pave the Way for Play.”

The brick fundraiser will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Oak Mountain Elementary School and allow the school to raise funds for the playground.

“Since we have had to restrict activities due to COVID, there was not a way to celebrate the 30th anniversary,” Horton said. “Pave the Way to Play will give people the opportunity to purchase a brick with their name on it as a way to honor, remember and celebrate their experience at OMES. We hope that former and current students, families, staff and community members will participate in this project. This will be a lasting legacy to celebrate all the people that make OMES such a special place.”