Local elementary school fund drive delivers more than $3,000 for Ontario pool project

ONTARIO – More than 130 youth from seven area elementary schools raised $3,466 for the Ontario pool renovation project during a May fundraising campaign.
The drive was spearheaded by the Ontario Recreation District and Ontario Pool Committee members Lisa Reeser, Kailey Meskill and Jaime Taylor-Blumer.
Students from Aiken, Cairo, Alameda, Annex and Pioneer Elementary schools along with youth from St. Peter Catholic School and Four Rivers Charter School participated in the fundraising.
As part of the effort, each student was asked to bring in a $25 donation for the pool.
Those who delivered such a donation received a free summer pass to the Ontario Splash Pad. Reeser said so far 150 splash pad passes have been handed out.
By the end of May, Aiken Elementary School students led the fundraising, pulling together $1,583.
Alameda raised the second most, collecting $699.
“This was one thing we thought would be great for the youth of Ontario to be able to take part in,” said Megan Cook, a member of the Ontario Recreation District Board.
Taylor-Blumer said the fundraising plan was an “amazing success.”
“The kids seemed to enjoy doing it. Now these kids who participated can, sometime down the road, say I was part of the legacy of the pool, I was part of making sure this is going to be around Ontario for future generations,” said Taylor-Blumer.
Taylor-Blumer said the pool, once it is open, will be “something for them (kids) to do in the summer that will be a positive experience.”
“I am so happy with it. If we only raised $100, I would have been happy with it,” said Taylor-Blumer.
Reeser said coordination with the local elementary schools and the Ontario School District was a critical. Reeser said local elementary schools “jumped at the opportunity.”
“The schools really wanted to get involved and it was amazing how much money the kids brought in,” said Reeser.
Cook said Andrew Maeda, district executive director, was also a key participant in the fundraising plan.
The school fundraising effort is the first of several set for the summer, said Cook. On June 10, the recreation district will host a “Party in the Park” at Lions Park in Ontario, said Cook.
The family event will showcase booths, food trucks, face painting, balloon animals and games, said Cook.
Entry to the event is free but participants paying a $5 fee get access to all of the booths and the splash pad.
The final summer fundraiser for the pool will be Aug. 18 at the Ontario Elks Lodge.
The 21 and older gala will feature a live and silent auction and games, said Cook.
The pool renovation has been a key goal of Ontario Recreation District, formed by voters in 2018.
The new outdoor pool will replace the former Ontario Aquatic Center indoor pool at Lions Park on Southwest Fourth Avenue.
The new pool project carries a total cost of $6.4 million but the recreation district and pool committee members have gradually chipped away at the cost with fundraisers and donations during the past few years.
At the same time, the district has set aside about half of its yearly property tax collections for the pool project.
Cook said $2.4 million remains to be funded to build the pool.
The pool project may also get help from the Legislature. A bill sponsored by state Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, and state Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, would funnel $4.5 million to the recreation district for the pool.
That bill, though is now in a holding pattern in the Joint Ways and Means Committee and there is growing doubt such legislation will be approved because of the Senate Republican boycott of floor sessions.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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