There’s a growing pride on campus for the Clair-Mel Elementary Cougars. They’re digging in to a months-long beautification project that wouldn’t be possible without help from Lowe’s, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boys and Girls Club.
“I think it’s fun, because we get to remodel our school and make it look nicer. I think it’s really nice how people are helping us out,” said fifth-grade student, Azalea.
Azalea and other students picked up shovels and rakes, alongside dozens of community volunteers to replant flower beds, put down mulch, and work on other landscaping tasks.
“The NHL came to us with such a great idea of celebrating green, one of their major initiatives as the All Star Game came to town. It just made perfect sense with our relationship with the school system and with the Boys and Girls Club, and now with Lowe’s that we’d come to a neighboring schools of one of our Boys and Girls Clubs that we’re also working on beautifying, and really get out and do some sweat equity with the kids,” said Kasey Smith, Tampa Bay Lightning community relations director.
Initially, only one Lowe’s store and employees planned to get involved, but that grew to nearly a half-dozen locations to make a bigger impact on campus.
“It was kind of a one-store project, and as we looked at the grounds we thought, wow, there’s a lot we could do here. So, we enlisted several other stores and a bunch of our team members, and we’re taking on this project. It’s much larger than probably originally anticipated, but we’re excited about it. Creating an environment where the kids can enjoy coming to school and sprucing up the property. It’s something we enjoy doing as a Lowe’s Team,” said Paul Johnson, Clearwater Lowe’s store manager.
Johnson said the project, which will continue into March, will cost up to $30,000.
“The beautification project just flourished into multiple projects. We’re fortunate to have Phase 1, which is an amazing phase where we are beautifying the entrance to our campus. We have our students involved in the project, as well as over 40 volunteers. It’s a very exciting day for us and really building those community partnerships,” said Clair-Mel Principal Gloria Waite.
Smith said the project is about more than planting bushes, it’s about planting hope and pride into students, staff and everyone who visits Clair-Mel Elementary.
“I hope, one – they realize that people care about them, and we’re here to share the day with them, and two – the lessons and responsibilities that they can garner for the rest of the year helping to keep their campus beautiful and sustainable. It’s really a wonderful lesson,” Smith said.
“It’ll make me feel more appreciative of my school. If something’s nice, you don’t want to disrespect it. It’ll make me feel more appreciative of how hard the teachers work here, and how hard the people at Lowe’s and the Lightning help us to make it look pretty,” Azalea said.
The school is grateful for the community support.
“Clair-Mel is the place to be and having a beautiful campus just supports that vision of us being the best we can be,” said Waite.
“Thank you so much for making our garden and school so beautiful, because I think by the end of March, it’s going to look fabulous,” said Azalea.
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