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Cottage Grove Elementary makes $1,000 Pay It Forward donation for city’s inclusive playground

Cottage Grove Elementary recently donated $1,000 to the City of Cottage Grove to be used towards the inclusive playground the city is currently planning. The elementary school was chosen by Bell State Bank and Trust to distribute the money as part of the bank’s Pay It Forward program. Through the program, the bank makes donations to organizations and allows them to decide who or what would best benefit from the donated funds. School staff discussed where the money could be used ultimately deciding on something that would positively affect the community and the students at Cottage Grove Elementary.

“We do have a higher population of students with physical disabilities that are not always able to access a regular playground,” said Theresa Blume-Thole, Cottage Grove Elementary School principal. “We are excited about the possibility of the development of a park that would benefit these students specifically.”

Blume-Thole learned her school was selected via an email from bank employee, Kerry Carter. Carter explained that annually each employee is asked to donate their Pay It Forward gift of $1,000 to a charitable cause of their choice.  Because education has been an important part of his life, Carter chose to give his donation to the school.

An inclusive playground is one built for everyone to use and play on together, including those with physical, social, emotional, sensory or cognitive challenges. Cottage Grove created an Inclusive Playground Task Force in January 2013 with a goal to have the playground in place by 2015. 

Individuals, businesses or organizations interested in making a monetary or in-kind donation towards the Inclusive Playground, or who have any questions, can contact Molly Pietruszewski at 651-458-3404.

Watch a short video on the inclusive playground donation here.