Most students would agree that recess is the best part of the school day. And for the students at Tank Elementary School, recess will be even more special as the Green Bay Packers and United Way teamed up to build a brand new playground for the school Tuesday, Oct. 19 in Green Bay.
Green Bay Packers players Andrew Quarless, Maurice Simpkins, Josh Gordy, Nick McDonald and T.J. Lang spent their day off at the school to lend a hand in the project. With the help of 15 students from the school's community service group, city of Green Bay workers, staff members from the Green Bay Packers' community outreach and facilities departments and United Way volunteers, a new playground structure was completed by the end of the afternoon.
No job was too small or too large for the students and players as everyone did their part to make the project a success.
Packers linebacker Maurice Simpkins took pride in working with the kids side-by-side and made sure to have a good time.
"This is such a great event to be involved with," Simpkins said. "I had a lot of fun and I know the kids did too. I love interacting with the community; I mean they are our fans so to be able to work with them on different projects is great.
"Today was definitely a lot of work but it was a good way to get the kids active. It's great for our Play 60 program, which tries to get kids moving and active. And with two playgrounds at the school now, the kids will be able to move around even more. They won't have to wait in line to go on the playground equipment. Now they can all play."
Rookie cornerback Josh Gordy also had fun with the kids and despite not wearing the best shoes for the job, a pair of crocs, he made sure to enjoy the day.
"I'm new to the team so it's great to come out here and get involved with the community," Gordy said. "All the kids have been working hard and having a lot of fun."
Tank Elementary principal Lisa Bohm was just as excited as the kids to see the project unfolding right before her and knows this is something the students will never forget.
"This has been an amazing day," Bohm said. "I can't believe how much can be achieved in just one day. Everyone has been working so hard and has made the day run smoothly.
"Seeing the players out here working and having fun with the kids is great. This morning Andrew (Quarless) took a break to play a football game with one of the classes and the kids haven't stopped talking about it.
"We were so lucky to get chosen for this project. When the kids first heard about the project, they were ecstatic. All day kids inside have been asking over and over, 'When can we go on it, when is it going to be done, what players are here?'
"For the kids to get this chance to work side by side with the players is amazing. It is something they are proud of and will cherish for a long time."
The 15 students who participated in the playground build are members of the school's community service group. Throughout the year, these students participate in multiple projects, but today might have been one of their favorites.
The students lent a hand every step of the way, and by the smiles on their faces, it was clear they were having a good time.
"Today was such a great experience," 11-year-old Laurie Martineau said. "I am really excited to get this opportunity and I can't wait until we get to play on it. I really appreciate the Packers taking time out of their day and helping us out. I can't believe we were chosen to get this playground. This will be something I will never forget."
Another student helper, 10-year-old Luciano King, was also anxious to play on the finished product.
"I had the most fun helping out with the raking," King said. "I've been laying all the bark down and it's been a lot of fun. The players are really nice and it's fun getting to work with them. I'm excited to play on it once it's finished."
Tuesday's project was not only fun for the players and the students but another example of the tradition and involvement the Packers have within the community.
"This is the real deal," Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt said before dedicating the playground. "These players are constantly getting involved with the community and they do a tremendous job interacting with their fans and it's great. We couldn't have the city without them and I don't just mean that for football. They truly are committed to this town and this is just one more example of their dedication.
"The school district and the community couldn't afford to construct a project like this, so to be given this opportunity is wonderful. I know that both the school and the community as a whole are very appreciative of today's project. The Packers and United Way gave the kids a great day to do some physical activity, work together as a team, and just have fun."
The custom play-system that now stands at Tank Elementary was purchased through Minnesota/Wisconsin Playground, a Milwaukee and Minneapolis company that designs and constructs playgrounds.
Vicki Cornell, Brown County United Way director of development and special events coordinator, couldn't have asked for a better turnout.
"United Way and the Packers have a long-standing standing partnership and the progress we have made over the years has been great," Cornell said. "This is a wonderful opportunity for not only the kids to get involved but the community as a whole.
"In comparison to other playground construction projects we have done, this year was just as successful and easy-going as the projects have been in the past. However, the level of excitement and energy seemed to be up because our program has been growing and the kids knew how special today would be."
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