NEW BETHLEHEM – Yet another remnant of the July flood was eliminated from the Redbank Valley Primary School last week as the community and the school once again joined forces to restore the flood-damaged school playground area.
Last Friday morning, more than a half-dozen volunteers from the Redbank Valley Elementary PTO gathered with rakes and shovels in hand to help district maintenance staff spread nine tons of new rubber playground mulch around the playground and swing set in the New Bethlehem school yard.
The mulch that had previously surrounded the equipment was washed away or damaged in the July 19-20 flood. With no protective surface underneath, the playground was not able to be used by students or community members until new mulch could be added to the area.
“We have the best PTO volunteers,” said PTO treasurer Laura Neiswonger, who organized last Friday’s work crew after learning that the school’s janitor was probably going to have to unload and spread the mulch on his own.
“It didn’t seem fair…and I knew I could get some volunteers to ease the burden,” Neiswonger continued, noting that she asked elementary principal Cheryl McCauley to let her know when the mulch would be delivered.
When McCauley told her the mulch was to be delivered at the end of last week, Neiswonger sent a text message to PTO members asking for volunteers and was pleasantly surprised with the result.
“I had five [people] chime in almost immediately ready to volunteer,” she said.
With the help of a high-lift provided by Hetricks Farm Supply and district maintenance staff, the group of volunteers worked efficiently to unload all nine one-ton bags of mulch in just a little over an hour.
“It was great to see so many volunteer without hesitation,” Neiswonger said. “We have the best PTO volunteers who made quick work of the project and got the job done.”
McCauley credited the work of district staff and community volunteers in the wake of the flood and said the elementary school would not be where it is today without their efforts.
“It was exciting to see them help,” McCauley said of the volunteers last Friday, noting that many parents want to help at the school but often don’t know how. “This was a great way for them to form that connection and lend a helping hand.”