Eight Pender moms were charged with an effort to place new preschool-aged playground equipment at the Pender Park last summer.
The idea originally started with the Main Street Thriftique in Pender, and organizers recruited a group of young moms in the community to help the idea become a reality.
Carissa Hansen took the charge as leader of the group, with other members including Laura Wiese, Mandy Moeller, Kira Swinton, Jessica Weborg, Lindsey Robinson, Katie Gutzmann and Amanda Huntington. The group met several times to identify potential fundraising opportunities as well as to develop plans on what to envision at the site.
“Our group was very excited about the opportunity to add structures to the Pender park that are focused more on kids who are ages 0-3. Our park is already such a great gathering place, but we wanted to enhance it even more for little ones,” Hansen said.
The group met with the Pender Village Board several times to gain approval for the playground equipment placement and to ensure future maintenance of the equipment would be handled through the village.
The site of the new playground equipment is on the south side of the large playground structure at the Pender city park.
After meeting with several playground equipment vendors, the group chose a “nature” themed concept for the new equipment and wanted to house structures that allowed children to climb, crawl and use their imagination to play.
Through Krispy Kreme fundraising, selling meals at the Thriftique, as well as through generous grants from the Main Street Thriftique, the Pender-Thurston Education & Community Foundation Fund and the Lower Elkhorn Valley Natural Resources District, the group was able to raise enough money to purchase the equipment. When it came to installation, husbands were were recurited to put the new equipment into place. Blake Hansen and Rodney Zvacek provided heavy equipment that saved the project as much as $8,000 off of the cost of a professional installation. Keith Thomsen and Travis Dunn also loaned equipment.
The group would like to give a special thank you to Susan Strahm for her assistance in providing ideas and inspiration to the group in the development and Diann Ballard for writing the grant for the Lower Elkhorn NRD.
“We are so lucky to live in this great town that supports ideas that make our community a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Katie Gutzmann, who noted the Krispy Creme fundraiser was a huge success.