Round-up program raises more than $25,000 in first year
Author Orison Swett Marden once said, “One penny may seem to you a very insignificant thing, but it is the small seed from which fortune springs.” Since June 2019, when Richfield Liquor launched its new round-up program it has collected a lot of pennies: $25,139 worth, in fact.
The idea for Richfield Liquor’s round-up program was conceived during a meeting between Liquor Operations Director Bill Fillmore and Recreation Services Director Amy Markle.
“I would say a good portion of our patrons are aware that a percentage of their purchases go to funding the city’s recreation programming and equipment,” said Fillmore. “However, we are always looking for new ways to make that connection stronger with our customers. The creation of a round-up program where liquor store staff can remind customers during a transaction seemed like a great way to do that.”
Both employees and residents have been very supportive of the program.
“Customers know that the round-up program is going to a good cause and making Richfield a better place to live,” explained Penn Avenue location store manager Ryan Shogren. “Several of our regular customers will say they want to round up even before their transaction at the register starts.”
Since the round-up program was created it has focused on raising funds for two programs: the proposed universally-inclusive playground at Augsburg Park and the Wood Lake Nature Center’s bus scholarship program.
When the program kicked off in June it focused on raising money for the proposed universally-inclusive playground project proposed to be constructed at Augsburg Park. The city’s municipal liquor stores focused their round-up efforts on that program through August 31, with the program making another appearance as the round-up recipient during the 2019 holiday season.
In all, the round-up program raised $19,389 for the universally-inclusive playground project.
Replacing a playground feature is not a cheap endeavor. Annually, the city replaces one to two features a year at the cost of $50,000-$75,000. Universally-inclusive playground features are considerably more expensive, with most medium-sized features costing approximately $500,000.
All of the city’s current playground features are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, but for many of the city’s youth, the ADA does not go far enough to meet their needs when it comes to accessibility. At present, ADA standards focus on accessibility for those with mobility impairments. However, youth with other impairments, such as autism, vision and auditory needs, are largely unaddressed.
It is a goal of Richfield Parks and Recreation that youth of all ability levels should be able to enjoy the city’s playground features. Thus, the partnership it the Richfield Liquor stores is working to bring a universally-inclusive playground feature to Augsburg Park.
“A universally-inclusive playground is not just for kids with disabilities, it is developmentally appropriate for all ability levels. These playgrounds also encourage more parent-child interaction and include more sensory-rich equipment,” remarked Markle. “Because these kinds of playground features cost much more than their traditional counterparts we are grateful Richfield’s liquor stores made it a part of their round-up program and that residents were interested in donating to this important cause.”
The City of Richfield hopes to have the necessary funds to build the universally-inclusive playground at Augsburg Park in 2021.
For the remainder of the year, the round-up program focused its efforts on the Wood Lake Nature Center’s bus scholarship program, which helps area schools afford the transportation costs associated with visiting the city’s nature center.
“Transportation costs are the biggest hurdle most schools must overcome when it comes to bringing their students on field trips,” said former Wood Lake Nature Center Manager Karen Shragg. “For most schools, it costs between $600 and $800 per bus, per field trip; our bus scholarship fund elevates some or most of the costs associated with transporting students to the Wood Lake Nature Center.”
During its two months as a round-up program recipient, the bus scholarship program garnered $5,750 in additional funds from generous customers.
Looking to 2020, the round-up program is looking into highlight initiatives such as the proposed dog park, environmental education programming at the Wood Lake Nature Center and more public art projects.
“It may not seem like rounding-up your purchase at one of the city’s liquor stores can make much of a difference, but that could not be farther from the truth” explained Markle. “Hundreds of more kids get the chance to visit the Wood Lake Nature Center for the first time and kids that need a universally-inclusive playground will have a place to go. The round-up program is a big part of those initiatives.”