Fundraising for fun times

HANCOCK – The playground equipment at Gordon G. Barkell Elementary in Hancock is quite old, and there’s an effort to get new pieces, including a fundraising event Saturday at the Kaleva Cafe.

Amanda Andress, Barkell kindergarten teacher, said from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., 15 staff members and teachers will be waiting tables.

“All the tips they get will go to the playground,” she said.

A similar event was conducted at the Kaleva Cafe last fall, and Andress said about $2,000 was raised for the equipment. The restaurant owners also donated 20 percent of the day’s revenue toward the fund.

“We’re hoping to get that and more (Saturday),” she said.

Waiting tables Saturday won’t be a problem for her, Andress said, because she worked at the Kaleva for five years.

Although the Barkell Parent Teacher Organization has organized other fundraising efforts, Andress said the staff and teachers are doing the organizing of the Saturday event.

“This is our chance to give them a break,” she said.

Andress said recess time is needed for children because it helps relieve the stress of the school day and helps them learn socializing skills, so upgrading the playground is important.

“I’m really excited to see the children get excited about the new equipment coming,” she said.

Tara Packard, PTO president, said she has a familiarity with the Barkell playground equipment.

“I actually played on this equipment when I was a kid,” she said.

Packard said the new equipment for the playground includes: a climbing net; two slides; monkey bars; a spinning wheel; and a rock climbing wall. About $45,000 is needed to purchase it all. The fundraising effort includes the receipt of a $1,500 grant from an organization called KaBOOM (, which helps fund efforts to improve existing playgrounds or build new ones.

“We submitted a proposal last spring,” she said.

The KaBOOM grants are meant for communities, so Packard said it’s important as many people as possible turn out on June 7 for the build day to install the new equipment.

“The intent is to get the entire community involved,” she said.

Packard said the PTO has conducted several fundraisers for the playground equipment, and they’re close to the $45,000 needed.

“The hope is the last fundraiser will put us over the top,” she said.