Presentation of check

Local Groups Partner to Raise Funds for Long Neck Elementary Playground

Fund raising plans continue despite setbacks from COVID pandemic

(Millsboro) (October 14, 2020) — There were high expectations when Clara Conn, Principal of Long Neck Elementary School (LNE), met with the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and the leaders of the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club prior to the start of the 2019-20 school year to discuss the school’s need for a new, bigger playground to accommodate its student population. From these initial conversations, a fundraising program was born, bringing together companies and groups throughout the region with a single purpose in mind: to raise the $100,000 needed to build the new playground.

The Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club, who has been supporting the school with free books and dictionaries for the students over the past several years, pledged $5,000 for the playground which comes from the proceeds of the Club’s annual charity golf tournament. The Club then reached out to community partners to assist in this endeavor and Mountaire Farms immediately pledged $5,000 and Community Bank Delaware $1,000.

“Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club is thrilled to participate in this campaign together with our partners,” stated Lucille Cavan, Club President.  “Our relationship with and the support of the children, families and businesses in the greater Long Neck community is a top priority particularly during this challenging time.”

Long Neck Sunrise Rotarian, Mike Hall, brought the project to Grace United Methodist Church, and discovered that of the twenty young people in the youth group, 4 or 5 went to Long Neck Elementary and recalled having to stand in line to get a swing during recess and sometimes never getting a turn. They were on board and agreed to split the monies they were raising for a church playground in Nicaragua with the LNE playground, adding another $1,500 to the donated funds.

Fast forward to the current school year. The kick-off events planned for the community have been canceled as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, however, representatives from the donor organizations  gathered at Long Neck Elementary on October 14, 2020 to present their checks to Principal Clara Conn.

Despite the issues faced by local business in this COVID 19 economy, local organizations have made good on their pledges and have given the school significant funds to add to the growing campaign coffers.

  • The Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club donating $5,000
  • Mountaire Farms donating $5,000
  • Community Bank Delaware donating $1,000
  • Ocean Grill II Diner donating $1,000
  • Grace United Methodist Church donating $1,500

This $13,500 will bring the total funds raised to date to $64,244.99.

The Long Neck Elementary PTO under the leadership of President, Mary Wilkins, has earmarked all their fundraising activities in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years to support the playground. They did a fall fundraiser in 2019 with Joe Corbi’s Pizza Kits and Claire’s Gourmet Cookies which raised $7,000 for the playground, and a winter fundraiser with Yankee Candle, raising  $5,000. $500 was raised from cereal box tops. Local restaurants offered 10% on purchases made on certain dates. These included Captain’s Pizza and Ocean Grill II.  JT Rogers Marine Construction donated $1,500 to the cause and the New Life Bible Fellowship Church donated the traditional “teacher welcome back meal” and goody bags in the fall of 2019 so that the PTO could dedicate their funds to the playground. Although the Corona virus has certainly put a damper on some restaurant activities, the PTO is regrouping and will continue their efforts until the goal is met.  A donation from diners at Chick-Fil-A with free ice cream for the kids was postponed and will be rescheduled.

To Mary Wilkins, who is relatively new to the world of volunteering, this has been an overwhelming but fulfilling effort for her and her fellow PTO members. “We just want to make sure that the kids have the playground equipment that is safe and appropriate for the various age groups in the school. Our work  has just begun, but with the continued support of the community, we know we will reach our goal.”

Currently the student population of 700 students from multiple ethnicities and 43% from lower income families, are served by a playground with two slides, eight swings and a climbing station that is not safe for children in grades K-2. This playground configuration was built when the school needed to physically expand and its prior playground was eliminated. The playground had also suffered from some flooding issues which have been remediated by drainage systems installed by the school district. The Indian River School district had provided the school with $25,000 dollars for this current playground equipment, which became the seed money for this latest fundraising effort

During the 2018-19 school year, the LNE fifth grade student council and the school’s administrators met to discuss what equipment should be included in a new playground. The student council met with other students and it was agreed to include six additional swings, soccer goals, safe climbing equipment, a rock wall and four slides usable by all students attending the school. The playground would also need to be ADA compliant and have a 12” compacted engineered wood fiber flooring. The student council and administrators then met with three companies to obtain proposals and selected Liberty Parks Playground Equipment Company who offered the best price for the playground and who had worked with the school’s previous equipment and local schools.

“We have certainly been dealing with significant setbacks in realizing our plans to provide the playground equipment sorely needed here at Long Neck Elementary,” notes Principal Clara Conn.  “We will move forward with the donations we have by Spring of 2021 to get installed what we can. We are extremely grateful to the greater Long Neck Community for their support in this important endeavor for the health and well-being of our students.”

Those wishing to help with this project can send donations to Clara Conn, Principal, Long Neck Elementary School, 26064 School Lane Millsboro, DE 19966.  Checks should be payable to Long Neck Elementary and “playground donation” should be noted in the memo field.

Pictured above left to right: Shannon McGinn, Vice President. Community Bank Delaware; Jack Riddle, President, Community Bank Delaware; Zach Evans, Community Relations Manager, Mountaire; Lucille Cavan, President, Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club; Clara Conn, Principal, Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club; Mike Hall, Grace United Methodist Church and Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club, Reverend Karin Tunnell, Grace United Methodist Church; Mary Wilkins, President, Long Neck Elementary PTO; Leolga Wright, Board Vice President, Indian River School District; Karen Blannard; Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Indian River School District.