By Madie Murray
When the Orcas Island Farm to Cafeteria Program won a $3,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education® grant to purchase vegetables from our Island farms for the 2011 Fifth Season event, Jim Wilde, Human Resources Manager at the Bellingham Lowe’s, was invited and graciously came to help us slice, dice and store more than 500 pounds of fresh local produce.
During his visit, he told us we should consider applying for an additional grant through the Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation to replace old and rapidly dying equipment in our school cafeteria as it was “exactly the type of project the Foundation sought to support,” according to Wilde.
In November, a grant application for $50,000 was submitted by the Orcas Island School District, together with the Orcas Island Farm to Cafeteria Program, to upgrade the school kitchen and home economics room equipment as well as build a root cellar on the school property. In June, the Orcas Island Farm to Cafeteria received a phone call stating that we had won the grant and last week, a check was received from Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation for $50,000.
“We are ecstatic!” says Superintendent Barbara Kline and Principal Kyle Freeman. “It will make the lives of our cafeteria staff so much easier. Echoing their enthusiasm, Madie Murray, Farm to Cafeteria Chair stated, “Debbie, Zach and Bing have been making amazing school lunches from scratch while refrigerators, freezers and warmers were failing right in the middle of lunch, and the steamers actually have holes in them. It’s nice to know they won’t have to deal with this any more.”
Lowe’s supports the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. The company’s signature education grant program, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education®, has donated nearly $5 million in grants to K-12 public schools every year since its inception in 2006. In addition, Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers (some of whom will be helping with the Orcas Island project) support local community projects and its nonprofit partners such as Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross.
“Lowe’s is committed to recognizing and supporting efforts that enrich the lives of our neighbors and customers,” said Marshall Croom, chairman of Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “By supporting the Orcas Island School District, we believe we are contributing to a cause that’s important to our customers and employees and helping build a stronger foundation for the children who will be tomorrow’s employees, homeowners and community leaders.”
In 2011, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together contributed more than $32 million to support communities in the United States, Canada and Mexico. To learn more, visit Lowes.com/SocialResponsibility.
Our heartfelt thanks to Jim Wilde and all of the employees of Lowe’s for supporting and funding this project for our public school.