In keeping with their motto, “Let’s build something together,” Lowe’s has awarded Lake Local Schools a pair of grants totaling $54,800 to help the district rebuild in the aftermath of the June 6 tornado.
In addition, about 80 volunteers from four local Lowe’s stores are stepping up to lend their time and talents in a variety of projects to get the schools ready for the coming school year.
A $50,000 grant, awarded through the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, will be used to help fund the construction of a multi-purpose room that will be used as a temporary cafeteria for the middle school until the new high school is completed, according to Christie McPherson, Lake Elementary principal.
A $4,800 grant, awarded through the Lowe’s Heroes grant program, will go toward replacing mulch and gravel around the elementary school playground.
“From the very beginning, the folks at Lowe’s reached out to help us,” McPherson said, adding that it was Darcy Mueller, manager of the Rossford Lowe’s who suggested the district may be eligible for grant awards through the home improvement store’s various corporate citizenship programs.
“She’s been so helpful – we have a `let’s try this together” kind of thing,” McPherson said of Mueller. “She has spearheaded the efforts and gets in there in the trenches with the volunteers.”
When she learned of the possibility of obtaining a Lowe’s grant, McPherson thought about improvements to landscaping on the school campus. “I was thinking mulch and trees, because we had lost a lot of trees,” she said. The $4,800 – comprised of $1,200 through each of the four area Lowe’s stores – will be used to give a facelift to the elementary school playground – a job that will be completed with the help of a contingent of Lowe’s associates bright and early Friday, Aug. 20.
Earlier in the week, Lowe’s volunteers helped get the elementary library ready for the school’s young readers who return to school Aug. 26.
“People may not realize that the elementary building – which we just discovered is 50 years old – had over a million dollars in damage,” McPherson said. “Then we had a second flood three weeks ago after they had been working on the roof and monsoon rains came.
“Subsequently, we had damage to three rooms that hadn’t been destroyed in the tornado,” she said.
“The library was completely gutted, and thousands and thousands of books were stored in boxes,” she said. “The Lowe’s associates came in and essentially assembled the library.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “They never say no.”
McPherson also credits the support of the community in helping the district recover after the tornado.
“People show their character in great ways when times get tough,” said McPherson, a Lake High School alumnae who is starting her second year as principal at Lake Elementary. She came “home” to the district after serving 10 years in the Northwood School District, most recently as the principal at Olney and Lark elementary schools.
“People from different cities would show up wanting to help,” she said. “It was also neat that my former colleagues and the Northwood football team came to help their neighbors.
“It’s been pretty cool and refreshing to see the good in people,” she said.