A new fundraising project initiated by the Rotary Club of White Rock may not be child’s play – but that’s definitely the ultimate objective.
The club is stepping up to help raise money so that children will be able to enjoy newly-equipped and up-to-date playgrounds at Peace Arch Elementary and White Rock Elementary schools.
And family fun will be the focus of the main fundraising event for the new project – the club will be taking over the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation’s former annual Great Pumpkin Run/Walk, which will now be renamed the Brand New Great Turkey Run/Walk, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 6.
At a launch of the campaign July 31 at the White Rock Elementary playground, club past president Raj Rajogopal – who is spearheading the project with fellow former president Jack Rae – explained that the two schools and their parent advisory councils had been faced with a total bill of $250,000 to replace old playground equipment and to upgrade the grounds to modern safety and accessibility standards.
“They have already raised over $100,000, but the total shortfall is around $150,000,” Rajogopal said, noting that the club initiative to make up the difference is in keeping with president Mauricio Browne de Paula’s desire for a new contribution to the community.
“Our fundraising to help out the schools will allow them to achieve the target of redeveloping the playgrounds to the most modern standard,” he said.
The run will be conducted in association with the Sources Foundation and in partnership with the City of White Rock, with the Peace Arch News as media partner.
Sharan Sangha and Jessica Knutson of the management team of White Rock’s Ocean Promenade Hotel brought good news to the launch – and an instant boost to the project – with a first donation of $5,000.
Also on hand to express support for the initiative were Sources’ director of women, seniors and community services Denise Darrell, filling in for CEO David Young; White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker and city parks and recreation director Eric Stepura; veteran school trustee Laurae McNally, Peace Arch Elementary principal Carol Davison, and members of the parent advisory councils of both schools.
Walker, who also expressed regrets from MP Gordon Hogg, convalescing from surgery, thanked the club and its project partners for their commitment to the community.
“Community is hugely important,” he said.
McNally said that as well as providing exercise for the body, playgrounds offer some of the most significant formative experiences for children, including learning social skills, learning to co-operate and developing leadership skills.
“The most important investment we can make is is in playgrounds,” she said. “They teach our children how to learn and how to live.”
Rajogopal told Peace Arch News that the club had been mulling several ideas for events to raise money for the playgrounds when it discovered that the PAHF was discontinuing the Great Pumpkin Run/Walk.
The family-friendly event, which the PAHF ran for 12 years, raised $40,000 in 2018 for the all-abilities Generations Playground at Ruth Johnson Park next to Centennial Arena.
Attracting runners and walkers of all ages, the event raised money through sponsorships of individuals and teams.
“It seemed like a natural for us to continue the event, which we are renaming the Great Turkey Run/Walk since it falls the week before Thanksgiving,” he said.
He said the event will be almost the same as the Pumpkin Walk/Run although the route is still to be finalized through discussion with city officials and White Rock RCMP.
“We’ll be going full blast and talking to everybody and asking them to form teams for the event,” he said.