KVCS in running for $30,000 playground grant

Fundraising efforts intensify as May 31 deadline approaches to match funds

By Tracy McNew

In March of 2017 KVCS volunteer and mother of three, Tiffany Nixon took over Kootenai Valley Christian School’s (KVCS’s) fundraising efforts to update their playground. At that point, Nixon told The Montanian, there was a little over $1,000 dollars that had been raised from previous efforts.
Nixon is not the first person to take on this effort, but she has been the most successful. As of last Friday, the playground fund had over $16,500 in it.
One of her main fundraising successes have been bake sales. “I do everything through baking,” she told The Montanian in an interview on Friday, May 18. “Words are not my strong point.”
Since 2016 Nixon has dedicatedly spent more than six hours each week baking and selling baked goods at KVCS bake sales to raise money for the playground.
Although Nixon is president of the Playground Committee, she is quick to point out that by no means does she do it alone. Students, parents, school staff, and community volunteers have all been very helpful along with Rosaures and Pizza Hut, she said.
Other fundraising successes have included two yard sales last year that brought in $2,600, welling cookies at the Irish Fair, and writing grant applications. She received a grant from Christ Lutheran Church for $1,500.
All of Nixon’s efforts are for a good cause, she said. “There is a need and I can make time to do it so I do.”
KVCS’s Administrator Ruthanne Dolezal can personally attest to the school’s need for new playground equipment. Dolezal used the same playground equipment that today’s students use when she was a child. The playground was built in the 1950’s, she said in an email to The Montanian, and most of the equipment was removed as it became outdated or dysfunctional leaving today’s playground desolate.
KVCS students agree that the playground needs to be updated. When interviewed during a carwash they held last week students were all too eager to share their comments on the topic. “It’s important and health, we need more exercise,” one said. Another chimed in that “It’s boring and we want something fun.” Another said, “Our playground is really old and broken down.”
Nixon and others have been fundraising diligently, but in April she found out that KVCS was being considered for a $30,000 matching grant that she had applied for from a company that makes high-end playground equipment. Judging for the grant is based on Nixon’s written application proving that maybe words are a strong point for Nixon after all.
The company told Nixon that KVCS has a good chance of being awarded the grant, but that the school must have $30,000 in matching funds by May 31 in order to qualify for it.
Since that April phone call, fundraising efforts have been intensified. A press release earlier this the month stated “KVCS believes strongly that as a community this ($30,000) goal could be met.”
They need less than $15,000 now but time is running short so supporters are working hard to help out.
One strong KVCS supporter is former employee Amy Thomson. Thomson now lives in Arkansas, but from a distance she is working to raise $10,000 for the playground.
“I love KVCS and I love Libby,” Thomson said by email.
“They have opened their doors for evacuees, travelers, missionaries, summer lunch programs and so much more.”
Not only did Thomson teach at the school, her children attended it, and her late husband, Sgt. Charles J. Thomson attended as a child. He also volunteered at KVCS regularly after retiring from the armed forces, Thomson said.
So far Thomson, along with friends and family, has raised almost $2,500.
If she get’s to her goal,” Nixon said, “the school will put up a plaque at the playground in honor of her husband.”
Thomson said, “This playground will help the children at the school and the entire community. The plan is to have it open to the public when school is not in session.”
Dolezal agreed saying “it is the vision of the school to provide students and community families with a safe, healthier place to play, enjoying the quality family time.”
Nixon explained that with $60,000 they could achieve their dream playground. It would include five structures, swings, a merry-go-round, a climbing structure, a fly wheel and a main structure with a slide.
Each class has chosen one piece of playground equipment, she explained. “They are all working hard to earn enough money for their own pieces.”
“Some students have even emptied their pockets and donated all their change,” Nixon said.
With such a short timeline, though, we had to ask the question. “What will happen if you don’t meet your goal?”
Nixon was undeterred. With a genuine smile she said, “We already have an installation date set for August. We’ll move forward either way.”
What they get will ultimately depend on how much money they are able to raise. The students may be a bit disappointed, but there are smaller, cheaper pieces of equipment that have a similar function to the larger ones she explained.
Nixon believes that it will all work out. An engineer has already offered to donate time to help and ensure that whatever equipment we get is safely installed, she said.
When asked what the community can do to help, Nixon said that donations of any size would be greatly appreciated. They’ll also need some help with site preparation and finishing the playground once the new equipment is installed.
Thomson was a bit more forthcoming, she said “Just imagine, if 100 people donated $100. That would be $10,000. If every church in Libby (and a few from a distance) took up one “Love Offering” for the school… it would take care of so many needs and be such a blessing.”
Eighty-seven students are currently enrolled at KVCS and their child care program is open all year long. Enrollment is now open for summer child care and the school year 2018-2019. Scholarships are also available for full time students in need from kindergarten to high school.
Anyone interested in helping can contact the school at 293-2303 or by sending an email to kvcs.playground@gmail.com. A fundraising website has also been created at www.youcaring.com. The project is called KVCS playground, but the site does keep a small amount of the money so locals are encouraged to contact the school directly.
“Any contributions made are greatly appreciated,” said Dolezal.