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Under Armour volunteers surprise Lakeview with renovations

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Under Armour employees rebuild the basketball goals. This was just one part of a major renovation of the school's playground and outdoor facilities this week while the kids were out for vacation. LAURIE EVERETT / The Wilson Post
Some of the 56 Under Armour employees who descended on Lakeview Elementary Tuesday morning for a Giving Back Program day to surprise the school's students with a playground facelift when they return from fall break. LAURIE EVERETT / The Wilson Post

Give playground major facelift

While Lakeview Elementary's some 650 students take a breather from the classroom on their two-week fall break, some local Mt. Juliet employees descended on their playgrounds and outdoor space to do a little sprucing.

More like a lot of sprucing up.

Early Tuesday morning a huge maroon bus pulled around the school to the back parking lot and 56 Under Armour employees debarked and set to work. Under Armour is one of Mt. Juliet's largest businesses.

Principal Tracey Burge was in her office when the bus arrived.

"When they approached me about their project here, I thought they would do some touch up to make things nicer, which would have been awesome," she said. "But, they pulled up in this huge bus and started unloading not only paint, but other work equipment. I brought tears to my eyes."

UA Operations Manager Rich Marken said it was part of the company's Give Back Program, and Lakeview was the most recent recipient of TLC from very proud employees who want to be part of the community. The program is their rally cry - a commitment to doing good. It's one small statement that can create a world of difference, Marken said.

"We try to have every employee give back at least eight hours of community service to the community they work in," Marken said. "We are connecting with our local community."

Employee Brent Womack's paintbrush "connected" to several different pieces of playground equipment during their work day at Lakeview.

"I'm a painting extraordinaire," he quipped.

He said it's all about reaching out.

"I can't wait until the kids see what we've done while they are on vacation," he added. "Their eyes will get big!"

Employee Sandra Pedigo echoed Womack's enthusiasm, even after several hours of hard work at the school.

"We are not employees of Under Armour, we are teammates," she said.

Coworker Kimmie Montano, who works in distribution in the plant that opened a year ago on Athlete's Way, noted, "We work in this community."

They love working at the equipment and apparel leader Under Armour that is the industry giant's third U.S. distribution facility. Projections are in another few years it will employ 1,500 people in Mt. Juliet.

Burge was very emotional when she talked about the outreach to her school. It's one of Wilson's oldest, built in 1969.

"Our 650 students use it [the playground] daily," she said. "That's a lot of wear and tear. This is my fourth year here and it's a lot to maintain. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders to see their mini-army arrive!"

Many times fund-raisers must be organized to get volunteer help to spruce things.

"I'm a parent and I get how it feels as a parent to be asked to do so much extra stuff," Burge said. "This is a wonderful and great surprise, and I hear there's even more than sprucing."

UA even hired a contractor to rebuild the basketball goals. Marken said when they repainted they did a little of the traditional UA black and red colors, but mostly stayed true to the school family they served with primary, "kid-friendly" colors on their benches and playground equipment.

Some of their tasks achieved were repainting all the playgrounds, benches, straightening the fences, and resurfacing the basketball court.

"Those kids are going to have a nice fresh playground when they come back," Marken said.

It's way more than that," Burge said. "It's so much of our culture here we want to cultivate. This shows our students if we take care of each other and work together, things are so much better."

Last week UA employees visited the Mt. Juliet Police station and Mt. Juliet's two fire stations. Earlier, about 60 employees participated in a project at Second Harvest Food Bank.

Writer Laurie Everett can be reached at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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education, Lakeview Elementary, Mt. Juliet, playground, renovations, schools, Under Armour, volunteers, Wilson County Schools
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