COOKEVILLE – A Cookeville-based corporation has made a $20,000 donation to Heart of the City, one of the largest contributions to the initiative that seeks to build a 12,000-square-foot fully accessible, all-inclusive playground inside Dogwood Park.
Averitt Express announced its monetary pledge this week. The transportation provider, whose corporate headquarters is located on Neal Street, is one of several donors who have made high-level contributions and pushed organizers behind the effort beyond their fundraising goal.
“The Heart of the City Playground is an important endeavor,” Gina Billings, marketing and communications director for Averitt Express, said in a release. “Because of the teamwork of numerous people from throughout our community, countless children will be able to enjoy this safe, all-inclusive playground environment. Our team is committed to the Cookeville community, and we are proud to be part of this great project.”
In addition to its corporate donation, Averitt Express’ associates were also an integral part of the Heart of the City Playground’s recent “All In For 10” grassroots fundraising campaign, generating approximately $5,000 for the project.
Many associates will also be volunteering their time as part of Heart of the City’s “Build Week,” which is scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 4. Hundreds of helpers are still needed; those interested in signing up can visit http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c054fa4a62aa7f49-playground.
The playground will be the only one of its kind – all-inclusive and all-accessible to include kids with special needs – within a 90-mile radius of Cookeville. Last year, volunteers set a fundraising goal of $450,000; that goal has been met, said Kelly Swallows, co-general coordinator for Heart of the Playground. She said corporate support has been key.
“We spoke with Averitt immediately since they were one of the largest employers,” Swallows said in an email. “They also agreed to sponsor a $3,500 component in our design, which we altered to make it an Averitt truck. We love how the entire playground will feature our local businesses and landmarks. We have the TTU castle, the Burgess Falls rock wall, the Capshaw cave tunnel, the historic Cookeville train depot and train, and many other intricate and fun elements to our playground. We certainly have been blessed and it proves that the community, both individuals and businesses, truly see our vision and the economic importance for this playground.”
Besides Averitt, large donations have been made by the following: Life Church’s congregation ($90,000), Blue Cross Blue Shield ($60,000), Ford Lincoln of Cookeville ($25,000), The River Church congregation ($25,000), Swallows Insurance ($20,000), Collins Manufacturing ($20,000), Napa Auto Parts ($10,000), Janice and Jim Wright ($10,000), Mike and Joyce Swallows ($10,000) and Cumberland Chrysler ($10,000).