One by one, nametags were affixed, tools were distributed and volunteers dispersed across the landscape as the morning rays shone through the golden leaves of autumn.
A daunting mountain of woodchips loomed near the job site as the downtown skyscrapers kept watch off in the distance. Spirits were high. The coffee was hot. Justin Bieber blasted through the speakers.
Just as they have for seven consecutive years prior, Nashville Predators staff members descended upon a specially selected location once more, ready to build a playground from scratch.
In partnership with KaBOOM!, the national nonprofit dedicated to giving all children (especially those living in poverty) the childhood they deserve through great, safe places to play, the Predators Foundation helped to bring more than 200 participants out of the office.
Preds staffers were joined by volunteers from 102.5 The Game, BlueCare Tennessee, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Jackson, LP Building Products and MAPCO Express, all coming together at KIPP Kirkpatrick Elementary School in East Nashville.
Monkey bars were constructed, concrete was mixed and the sounds of nuts and bolts filled the air as young children peered out of the windows, their eyes filled with wonder and excitement at the promise below.
As the hours passed, what started as metal frames scattered about the grounds began to take shape into familiar structures, including a swing set, sliding board and seesaws ready to be put into place. That mountain of mulch became more manageable, and as it shrunk in size, the main apparatus rose high into the sky, the Predators’ logo right at the top.
Once morning changed to afternoon, the students at KIPP Kirkpatrick began to make their way outside, and the arrival of GNASH sent them into a frenzy.
Then, just five hours after the build began, it was time to cut the ribbon on a new playground based on the drawings of the very children who will utilize it day after day.
Taking on such a project with so little time for completion may seem unattainable, but tasks like that are commonplace for the Preds. It’s just what the organization does: bettering the community they call home, leaving it better than when they found it.
The partnership with KaBOOM!, now stronger than ever, succeeded once more to provide Nashville-area children with something every child deserves: a playground to let their imagination run as fast as they will.
As the build wrapped up and the volunteers returned their tools, tore off their nametags and got in a much-needed stretch, a young man was heard exclaiming, “This is the best day ever!”
Indeed, it was.