Black Mountain Daisies and Brownies donate cookie money for KaBoom playground

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News
Haley Ann Duvall presents Black Mountain Primary School principal Malorie McGinnis with a check for $450 to help build a new playground while Brie Sudnik, Ellison Duvall, Wren Hall and Kiersten Hall look on.

When a new playground goes up in front of Black Mountain Primary School this fall, it will be more than a place for students to play.

It will also be a place where all children can have that same opportunity. It will be a symbol of the unified effort of the entire community, which is why it received a boost from some local Girl Scouts.

On June 5 the Black Mountain Primary PTO and YMCA of Western North Carolina hosted an event at the school to kick off a campaign that will culminate in the construction of a KaBOOM playground Oct. 6. The  Daisies and Brownies of Troop 02498, most of them students at the school, presented principal Malorie McGinnis with a check for $450.

“I’m happy,” said Brie Sudnik, one of the Daisies who presented the check and a kindergartner at the school. “I want to let all of the people have a fun place to play.”

The Girls Scouts place an emphasis on members working to improve their communities, so when Kiersten Hall approached her troops about how they wanted to use a portion of the proceeds raised by the 12,000-plus boxes of cookies they sold over the winter, the playground was a popular choice.

“We took a vote,” Hall said. “They know being in the Girl Scouts is largely about helping people around them in the community and this is their school. We talked about the need for a playground there and they were all instantly excited to contribute.”

Children play on the playground at Black Mountain Primary School June 5 while their parents meet in the cafeteria to discuss plans for a new one.

The playground, which will replace the existing one visible from East State Street, is made possible through a grant from Forester Financial. The agency partnered with KaBOOM, a nonprofit organization that works to increase active play in kids around the country.

The YMCA of WNC applied for a grant through KaBOOM, according to youth development community director Heather Deifell. When the organization was awarded the grant, she continued, they thought about which area schools could use a playground.

“We didn’t want to compete with schools,” Deifell said. “There are a lot of them that need playgrounds, but none had applied.”

The primary school made sense, “because we have an after-school program here and knew it was a great community,” she said.

The community aspect is an important one in KaBOOM’s model. The grant requires an $8,500 match from the recipient and volunteers, which is being secured through a PTO campaign.

Amy Berry and Rachel Sudnik, Brie's mother, introduced the Pennies for our Playground fundraising campaign, in which  Mason jars for spare change were displayed at local businesses. It was a success, Berry told those in attendance at the kick-off.

“We raised $1,525 in pennies,” she said. “That’s a lot of pennies.”

During another event - Dine Out for Our Playground - Fresh Wood Fired Pizza and Worldly Weiners and Things donated a portion of sales on Wednesday, June 6. Foothills Butcher Bar was set to hold a similar event the following evening.

“There will still be Pennies for Our Playgrounds jars out for the next few weeks,” Sudnik said. “So people who want to give money that way will be able to.”

Margaret Hurt will be in charge of recruiting the 160 volunteers needed to construct the playground in one day, a hallmark of the KaBOOM program.

“The entire thing is community driven,” Deifell said. “The entire playground goes up in a day; it’s like a barn raising.”

While the fundraising  has raised most of the money required to match the grant, more is needed, Sudnik said.

“We can’t stop there because we want to build a track, we want to fix the basketball court, we want to do more things,” she said. “Even though we love the fact that this is going to be at Black Mountain Primary, it’s a quarter-mile from downtown and we want to create a great place for parents and grandparents to take kids.”

The kids who will get to use the playground  in the future are why eight-year-old Brownie Ellison Duvall was proud to be one of the girls who presented the check to go toward the project. The Daisies and Brownies will also donate $50 of their cookie sales to ArtSpace Charter School.

“I just love helping little kids out,” she said. “I hope this makes people happy.”