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Some 500 Kohl's associates from 50 stores in Illinois and Indiana sat with Mooseheart students and the school's Moose mascot for a group portrait in the football stadium bleachers prior to their campus beautification efforts on Saturday, April 14.
Spreading mulch and planting attractive groundcovers were among the main efforts by the 500 Kohl's associates who participated in a Kohl's "Go Green" event at Mooseheart on Saturday, April 14.
Fence painting was also a key component to the April 14 Kohl's Go Green event hosted by Mooseheart and which involved 500 Kohl's associates. In addition to the fences at the horse corrals at the campus' farm complex, the chainlink fence that surrounds the football field got a new coat of silver paint.
Mooseheart students and staff lent their efforts alongside Kohl's associates. From left, Noel Yarngo, Brandon Gadson and Willie Nicholas helped paint the fences at the horse corral.
Mooseheart Family Teacher Colleen Morgan helped pass hay bales to Kohl's associates, who stacked them in the horse barn.
MOOSEHEART, April 18 - When they posed for a group portrait in the stadium bleachers at Mooseheart Child City & School, the 500 Kohl’s associates who came to beautify the campus through their third annual "Go Green" event looked like a purple blanket on the stadium bleachers.
As they dispersed from that photo sitting, those associates spread themselves throughout the campus, covering much of the 1,000 acres with a spirit of joyful volunteerism. By early afternoon, when the five-hour event concluded, Mooseheart could check off a significant number of upkeep items as "complete," Kohl’s associates left smiling knowing they had worked hard, and Mooseheart was the beneficiary of a grant check in excess of $64,000.
This year is the third year that Kohl’s has sponsored a Go Green event on the Child City campus.. The driving forces behind the Kohl’s involvement at Mooseheart have been Stephanie Krauss, the manager of the St. Charles Kohl’s store, and Mooseheart Superintendent of Education Gary Urwiler.
After two years of modest growth, the event really blossomed this spring. Kohl’s associates who live in Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois, and who are employed at some 50 stores throughout Illinois and Indiana -- every store at in the metropolitan Chicago area! -- made the drive to help paint fences, spread mulch and complete other campus beautification projects.
“I had heard that (Krauss) and the local stores had supported the organization,” Nicole Reed, District Manager for Kohl’s Region 19, said. “I was excited to be able to get all of our stores, all 50 stores, involved in the event. To be able to give a grant for more than $64,000 and to have 500 people here today - we’re very excited about it.”
The Kohl’s employees gathered at 8 a.m. but an hour later, they were ready to start what ended up being 2,000 man hours of labor at Mooseheart.
“We could not be more proud of our associates at Kohl’s for their support of this event,” Reed said. “And we’re looking forward to giving a sizeable grant to this wonderful organization, Mooseheart. I think it’s a testament to the Kohl’s Cares for Kids program, to the sense of volunteerism from our employees and their commitment to Green initiatives. The spirit is amazing.”
The benefit from having the Kohl’s event at Mooseheart benefits Mooseheart beyond the paint and mulch and other beautification done through some 2,000 man-hours of labor on Saturday. Kohl’s also brought a check of more than $64,000. That money will go to Moose Charities.
“This has been a building relationship over the last three years,” Mooseheart Executive Director Scott Hart said. “It started out small and we thought it would take some time to grow. The next thing you know, it’s just mushroomed. We are very happy to partner with Kohl’s and have the gift of their service today. But the $64,000-plus coming to Mooseheart will really help us.”
Hart said he would like to see the Kohl’s money used in an ongoing effort to renovate Mooseheart’s school building, which dates from 1954.
“A lot of the mechanical and operating systems in our school are original,” Hart said. “They need some updating. This is a great way to kick that off, with a local partner like Kohl’s.”
The funds donated by Kohl’s was more than double the $30,000 brought in by Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman through his visit to campus in 2009 as the largest single-day donation by an outside organization at Mooseheart.
“You talk about getting the community service and the financial donation and those are good things,” Hart said. “We want to build these friendships within the community.”
Certainly the money is significant, but it wasn’t money that drove the spirit of the Kohl’s Cares effort at Mooseheart. Whether grooming the campus’ horses, painting fences, stacking bales of hay or spreading mulch, there were smiles to go with the hard work.
“I think what is great is to actually do the work,” Nick Vanella, Kohl’s Region 1 Vice-President said. “There are so many companies that will do one or the other, work or give money. We do both. We come out and do a good day’s work. But then, beyond that, we are able to make a financial contribution that is pretty substantial.”
Kohl's Region 1 encompasses the Chicago metro area, and Parl Ridge native Vanella said he has often passed the campus when traveling to stores within the region, but had never been on the Mooseheart campus prior to Saturday’s event.
“I knew it was big, but being able to actually be here and see what it is all about is pretty cool,” Vanella said.
Mooseheart’s motto is “Enter to learn, leave to serve.” Hart discussed how the Kohl’s Cares event could show Mooseheart’s children that those are not "just words" and that people practice that motto constantly.
“When you have an organization like Kohl’s come in and show our children that this is what it’s about. They have shown our children that when you have an opportunity to give back, you do that. ‘Enter to learn, leave to serve’ -- it’s not just us talking about it. This is a national event and one of the top department stores in the country and they value service. For our kids to see that is extremely helpful.”
Vanella mentioned that Region 1 will participate in close to 200 events through a calendar year, proving that the volunteer spirit exists for more than just one day at Mooseheart.
“I think there’s a genuine sense of collaboration in being here,” Vanella said.
After three years partnering with Kohl’s, thoughts turn to the future. The year 2013 is significant at Mooseheart as it is the 100th anniversary of the campus’ founding. An effort to beautify the campus will be even more beneficial as thousands of Moose members will be visiting the campus in its Centennial year.
“The 100th anniversary, it’d be great to have Kohl’s come back in a major way and have them help prepare our campus for the celebration,” Hart said.
Reed said her thoughts were also that 2013 would see a return of Kohl’s employees to Mooseheart’s campus.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to do an entire regional event out here and I’m confident it won’t be the last,” Reed said. “I think people coming here today, seeing the kids and seeing what we are able to accomplish will help us bring out even more associates next time.”
Since its founding, Mooseheart has operated a complete, accredited kindergarten-through-high-school academic program, plus art, music, vocational training and interscholastic sports. It is an extremely nurturing and student-tailored program, with an average student-teacher ratio of 12-1.
Mooseheart students who complete their studies with a 3.0 GPA or better (4.0=A) are eligible for up to five years of annually renewable scholarship funding, covering tuition, room and board in an amount comparable to that required for an in-state student at an Illinois public university.
Mooseheart is currently home to roughly 230 students, ranging in age from preschoolers to high school seniors. Applications for admission to Mooseheart are considered from any family whose children are, for whatever reason, lacking a stable home environment. Mooseheart boasts its own U.S. Post Office and a fully functioning branch of Fifth Third Bank.
In addition to Mooseheart, Moose International also supports Moosehaven, a 70-acre retirement community near Jacksonville, FL founded in 1922; and conducts more than $70 million worth of community service programs annually.