Madison Rotarians rebuild, dedicate tornado-ravaged Harvest playground

Tornadoes on April 27, 2011 demolished the Harvest Youth Club playground and petting zoo. Rotary Club of Madison couldn’t accept that fact.

Madison Rotarians and Harvest Youth Club dedicated the new playground on May 8.

Madison Rotarians rebuilt the playground last fall and dedicated the site on May 8.

“In the small community of Harvest Meadows, 80 out of 103 homes were affected in one way or another. Approximately 40 were completely destroyed,” project manager and president-elect Steve Baum said.

Few residents were insured. Those with insurance were underinsured.

Carla Daily, who was then Rotary president, “reconnected with high school friend Melvin Allen, center director of the Harvest Youth Club,” Rotarian Dennis Sanders said. “Carla invited Melvin to visit our club and give a presentation on the damage … and the needs that the Harvest club and community had in recovering from this disaster.”

Allen promoted rebuilding because a playground is a rallying point for the community and offers fun to children from two to 15 years old. Having a playground is a huge encouragement to youth and a source of witness for good in the Harvest community, Allen said.

“We discussed his requirements and jointly picked out the playground unit,” Baum said. “Children will use the playground area after school and weekends (for) a safe and an enjoyable environment. The young and preteens can gather, talk and play,” Baum said.

The playground structure cost was $10,250, with 42 landscape timbers at $882, stakes at $193.50 and ‘woodcarpet’ safety surface at $1,165.75.

To rebuild, the youth club collected private donations of about $2,400. Madison Rotary asked the Rotary District 6860 for a $5,125 matching grant from the “Alabama Tornado Disaster Donor Advised Fund.” The Madison club contributed the remaining $5,125.

“Now, there is a safe, colorful and fun playground feature that will brighten the days of Harvest kids for years to come,” Sanders said.

Baum said this worked fulfilled two primary goals of the club: providing long-term financial support recognized as a Rotary Club project and giving “‘Boots-on-the-Ground’ support for a specific community project.”

For more information about Rotary Club of Madison, call 256-564-2075 or send email to madisonrotary@gmail.com.

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