Harelson Elementary School has been awarded a $100,000 grant to be put toward an outdoor learning center and needed repairs around the nearly 50-year-old school.
During last week's Amphitheater School District board meeting, Harelson Principal Andy Heinemann announced the grant from Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation.
"Not only is this great for the kids at school, but for the different organizations who use the fields for soccer, baseball and after-school activities," Heinemann said. "It really ties the Harelson community together."
With the funds, Harelson will be putting in new playground equipment near the kindergarten rooms, two backstops for the baseball fields, four soccer goals, and an outdoor learning center with 10 tables and a shade covering.
Heinemann is also looking to repaint some of the existing playground equipment. Currently, the school has soccer goals, covered with tattered netting and chipped yellow paint, and the kindergartners do not have updated playground equipment.
In June, Lowe's district manager Bill Kelt stopped by Heinemann's office and explained how Lowe's was offering a grant.
"I was sitting in my office, thinking about 'what does Harelson need?' And Bill Kelt knocks on my back door," Heinemann recalled.
After that meeting, Heinemann wrote up the grant. Late in July he heard back from the foundation about the award.
"This is a blessing. Harelson is going to celebrate its 50th birthday next fall," Heinemann said. "This is going to mean so much to the Harelson students, faculty, staff, the parents, and of course the Harelson community. We are just honored and grateful that Lowe's is able to help us with these projects."
"Harelson was just the one that needed the most help, when it came down to the final result," Kelt said. "It seems like a lot of people within the community utilize that facility as a resource."
The school, using Lowe's volunteers and contractors, has two years to use the $100,000. Heinemann expects to have everything completed by May.
Lowe's employees are part of their Hero Program, where during their time off, they off volunteer to make a difference in and around the community.
Only 10 percent of the grant can be used for installations, labor or consulting fees. If more that 10 percent is needed for said things, it must come from other funds. The Harelson PTO is giving nearly $5,000 of raised funds towards the project to build a shade canopy.
Harelson has 524 students.