Last month I wrote about how when we were at Sam’s Club selling fruit as a fundraiser, one of the managers came out and handed me a grant application. My quandary then was that the grant was supposed to benefit the local community, and we were raising funds to go on a mission trip to Latin America. Since that’s not local, I decided to request the money for something else that was already in the works.

Last fall, Sophia, one of our members, made the initial contact with Sam’s Club, requesting a donation for playground equipment for our school. We were in the process of clearing brush for the playground/ball field at the time. They told her that they were out of grant money for the year, but that we should ask again early in 2010 (like February). They also told her that if we ever wanted to run a fundraiser on their steps, that we were welcome to do so.

While we were selling fruit, Sam found some extra grant money and wanted us to apply for it. In the end, I consulted a few people, and we agreed that the best thing for us to do was request the money for the playground equipment as originally planned. I filled out the application, and Sophia emailed me a letter to go along with it. I dropped it off at Sam’s as requested, and then… nothing.

Until today!

I got a call from one of the managers telling me that they had a check written out to our school for $2,250! Did I want them to mail it to us or would I like to come and pick it up? It was almost time for me to leave the office anyhow, so I told her I’d be there in 20 minutes to get it. When I got there, they came down and handed me the check. I thanked them, and they asked me to send them a picture of the playground. I reminded them that all they had to do to see it was peek over the berm that separates our property from theirs, and there it would be. But I also said I’d send them a picture and that we expected to set it up in April.


I have to give credit where it is due though, and that is to God Himself. When it was time to order fruit in December, I felt impressed to order four dozen extra cases and try to sell them at Sam’s Club. I was afraid to do this at first, but then I realized that we had already raised enough money to cover four dozen extra cases of fruit, so even if we didn’t sell any, we wouldn’t be in the red. Further, if the Lord wanted us to go on a mission trip, He would send us customers and make sure we made a profit. Otherwise, He would be pleased if we were to give His extra fruit to a kitchen that serves the homeless. We did make a $500 profit on the fruit in December, and we still had about a dozen cases of fruit left, which I delivered to the kitchen right after Christmas. They were very pleased to get that, as they are not often able to provide fresh fruit to their clients. So God used us to raise some money for our trip, and He also used us to feed some of His children. And because we were willing to be used by Him, we were on the doorstep of Sam’s Club when they “found” some extra money. Wouldn’t you say He had a hand in that?

I still don’t know if we will be able to raise enough money to go to Latin America, but I don’t have to know. It is enough for me to trust in Him and work towards that goal. If that’s what He wants us to do, then He will find the money.

Who knows? But maybe He will choose to send us to Haiti.

Today after work I went over to Ken’s house. Our mission was to go to Lowes and buy eight sugar maples so they could be planted along the edge of the new playground.

After feeding his cows, we hopped in his truck and drove to Lowes. They had maples all right, but no sugar maples. Instead, they had a mix of red maples (Acer rubrum) and a couple of hybrids that I had never heard of. I can only remember one of them now, and that’s what they called “Autumn blaze” (Acer x fremani). When I looked at it, I thought it was a silver maple (Acer sacharinum) because the leaves had the same shape (deep sinuses) and a silver underside (as does the silver maple). I was happy to learn when I got home that Acer x fremani is a cross between Acer rubrum and Acer sacharinum, so it was indeed half silver maple.

I don’t remember the name of the other cultivar – red something or another, but not plain red maple. I just checked the receipt. It was a Red Sunset maple, which is a cultivar of regular red maple. Cool.

The good thing is that you can tap red maple and get good syrup from them. That was the reason we wanted sugar maples in the first place, even though it will be years before these could be tapped. We dropped them off at the church, but I have no idea when they will be planted.

Then we went back to his farm where my car was. Lowes also had some apple trees for sale, and a redbud. I was tempted. I would like to have some fruit trees. Ken confessed that he has a weakness for fruit trees, and he is particularly fond of McGowan apples (if I spelled that correctly). He offered to pick one for me when we got to his place, and I gladly accepted. It is a very good apple, so if I can find them, I will buy a couple. I’d also like to get some plum trees.

Then I drove home, knowing that Beth would be there by the time I arrived. And she was! I kinda missed her while she was in Maine. She was excited to see me too and spent several minutes telling me about Outdoor School. She paddled a kayak (on a lake) and got stung by a yellow jacket. I guess those were the highlights.

The guy with the power shovel showed up at the church today as promised. I drove out there after work just to see what (if anything) had been done.

Yesterday I wrote that he had a bulldozer (and he might, I dunno), but this is what he brought, and this is what he did:

Playground Excavation

Playground Excavation

What a difference a day makes! Yesterday at 4:30, that patch had several brush piles on it and several places where the weeds (including small trees) were up to six feet high. Today, all that is mostly gone. He built a berm along the back of the property, and he piled up the rest of the waste in a ridge down the center and parked his shovel on top of it. That ridge will be hauled away early next week. Then it will be raked and seeded.

He will seed it with winter rye which is an annual. It sprouts in three days and will hold the soil down until the “playground” grass come up. Playground grass is a mix of something like eight species (yay! no monoculture!) which holds up particularly well to the rigors of playground use. It will come up in about three weeks, and it will survive the winter. The winter rye will not come back in the spring, having finished the task to which it has been assigned.

So! Things are moving ahead!

The next steps are to plant a row of hemlock trees along the road to serve as a privacy screen, fence in the area, and erect some playground equipment. It looks like we may get some help with that this spring. Every year the Atlantic Union rounds up several educators and sends them to work on a project. This year it is our conference’s turn to benefit from that, and our conference education secretary has proposed that our school be designated. They can put up the fence, build the playground, or spread mulch. Free labor, yay!