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'Heroes' build a garden at Dennis Township Elementary School

DENNISVILLE – A team of volunteers showed up at Dennis Township Elementary School last week to design and build an outdoor garden that would give children an opportunity to find out more about where their food comes from, and how it’s grown.

The 20 volunteers, known as Lowe’s Heroes spent a week rebuilding a section of the school’s courtyard adding paver stones, fruit and vegetable boxes, benches, creating flower beds and building a shed.

“Every year, every single Lowe’s around the country does something good for the community,” said Varvara Keun, a Lowe’s representative. “It feels good to help, and that’s what we’re all about.”

For the employees at Lowes of Cape May in Rio Grande, the yearly project is chance to reach out into their own communities to help non-profit organizations and schools.

“We have stores in the community, and we want to give back to the people,” Keun said. “It’s good to help people and the community, and we always want to help the kids.”

She’s a human resources manager at the company, but Keun also functions as the volunteer group’s forewoman, and last week she worked alongside Christine Nelson, Lower Township, and Barbara Jean Martinelli, Whitesboro, to paint concrete blocks and wooden posts that would later be used to make flower beds.

“It’s fun,” Martinelli said. “It’s good to help the schools.”

Keun said that employees at Lowe’s in Rio Grande aren’t limited to the annual companywide Heroes week in their community outreach.

“If there are any non profits or schools in the community that need help with a project, tell them to reach straight out to me,” Keun said. “There are volunteers at the store that may be able to help.”

Keun can be reached at 609-463-5760.

“We want to put in hours to help them in a physical way,” Keun said.

Three years ago, Keun and Rio Grande Lowe’s group landscaped the area at the Dennis Township Senior Center. Two years ago, they lent a hand at a Habitat for Humanity home in Whitesboro, spending six days on the house, and $2,500 donated by Lowe’s for the home’s construction.

In 2016, the team from Lowe's spent a week chiseling away and replacing cracked and broken base tile at Middle Township Middle School, as well as repainting classrooms, and repairing fixtures in bathrooms.

Last week’s work at Dennis Township Elementary School was worth about $2,500 and will give kids everything they need to get ready for a season of growing, Keun said.

“Kids will see how to grown their own vegetables and flowers, and lead a more sustainable life,” Keun said.

“Along with building the garden, we donated a box of seeds, and we’re giving them all they need – seeds, soil and pots – to give the children a chance to get their hands dirty and learn about nature.”

Volunteers for the project included: Barbara Jean Martinelli, Joe Valeno, Varvara Keun, Jim May, Bill Stowe, Walter Niwinski, Kus Kuswendra, Bryan Lowe, Christine Nelson, Don Oral, Dan Hawkins, Steve Bolton, Kim Pelham, and Steve Lawrence.

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