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(At left) Jolene Hensley is store manager at Home Depot Thomaston and she and her husband Craig were among the many who rejuvinated the PCES playgrounds. She has worked for Home Depot for 18 years and was instrumental in the project’s success. At right, Among the many local volunteers who pitched in to help during the Pike County Elementary School playground work day was Annette Governo (left) who helped spread mulch and moved it for an old piece of equipment to be removed (above) as well as doing whatever else needed to be done. Her family owns the Farm Supply True Value on Highway 41 in Barnesville.

Volunteers revive PCES playgrounds

The Pike County Elementary School playgrounds are ready for a school year of fun with third through fifth graders enjoying the efforts of teacher Meghan Lee and volunteers who brought the play areas back to life. 

“Meghan has just been incredible and it all starts with just asking the question, ‘can we?’” said Thomaston’s Home Depot store manager Jolene Hensley who applied for grants and gathered helpers for the project. “Everything is possible when everyone works together. Some of our outreach programs were shut down during COVID but now we are able to get together, fellowship and have fun on the work site and most importantly, give back to our community. That’s what it’s all about.” 

In addition to dozens of Home Depot volunteers, local business owners, parents and kids showed up to lend a hand as well, with Annette Governo of Farm Supply in Barnesville who helped spread the mulch and pitched in wherever needed, including picking up trash around the playgrounds. Amy Guy attended Pike schools and graduated in 2018. She has been working for Home Depot for a year and was excited to help out at her old school for her first Home Depot project. 

Shannon Mouton of Double M Fence and Irrigation offered a quick solution to save time and effort as he brought his skid steer to remove a broken part of the playground equipment. 

“Mrs. Lee was our son’s teacher and we wanted to help her and all the students who will benefit from this,” he said. “I think it’s fantastic that the community is here as well as all the volunteers from Home Depot. It’s awesome to come together as a community and complete a project that’s going to make a difference.”

Home Depot volunteers showed up around 7 a.m. and made quick work of spreading 1,938 bags of mulch on both of the school’s playgrounds. They completed that task in around two hours and as other volunteers arrived, moved their attention to painting both playground’s basketball courts and some of the climbing equipment. Other volunteers painted the Buddy Bench and even added hand sketched Pirates and flags for an extra special touch. Several volunteers also rebuilt two of the playground’s benches since new benches that were ordered through a separate source had yet to arrive. 

“I just like to work and to give back to the community and I’ve been very blessed to have other people help me so I wanted to return the favor,” said George Horton who runs the Pro Desk and Paint Department at the Thomaston Home Depot. “I enjoy coming out to help and I’ve worked on three different veteran projects. It really makes me feel good to be able to help.”

Now that the playgrounds have a fresh look for the new school year, other projects are being planned. At the back of the playground is an entrance into the woods and teachers are hoping to be able to create a nature trail that connects to the school’s cross country team’s trail. 

“We would love to clear out a nature trail for the students to use and it would connect to the Trailblazer’s track and then to Jacob’s Way,” said teacher Ashley Wright. “That would give us a nice, shaded nature trail we can do more outdoor activities with the kids.” 

That project would involve pulling up a lot of privet and getting rid of invasive kudzu. Organizers are planning to rent a whole herd of goats to eat away the kudzu. Stay tuned for opportunities to help with the project.

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