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From plain, gravel plot to playground extravaganza, the Walhalla community had the back of the Kids Choice Child Care Center throughout the entire process.

By the Community, For the Community

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Situated 5 miles from the Canadian border, Walhalla, ND is a small town with a population numbering just under a thousand people. And like most small towns, the residents of Walhalla know they can accomplish just about anything when the community bands together.

So, when all the home daycares in town had reached their full capacity and many growing families found themselves in need of more childcare options, Pat Chaput, Location President, and several other community members came together to open a new daycare in town: Kids Choice Child Care Center.

One of the first orders of business before the playset was installed was to lay down the framework for the sandbox.

By the time the daycare was ready to open, the community had managed to raise over $30,000 for its startup costs and equipment.

Pat quickly pulled together a 7-member board to begin the paperwork process. The town, eager to see it through, rallied behind Kids Choice Child Care Center, offering support through fundraising and volunteering to help prepare the daycare and its facilities. By the time the daycare was ready to open, the community had managed to raise over $30,000 for its startup costs and equipment.

Then, on July 23, 2018, after 18 months of hard work, Kids Choice Child Care Center opened with starting enrollment of 3 kids. Pat’s wife, Joan, served as interim director until the board was able to hire Madyson Schmetzer who had a background in early childhood education.

Hard work and dedication by a small group of volunteers is what saw Kids Choice Child Care Center’s new playground through to the end.

The Wishing Well committee decided to grant more than the $960 that Madyson had requested.

By the time of Madyson’s appointment as director, the daycare had 18 kids enrolled and only had a fenced-in gravel plot as an outdoor play area. It was also around the same time that she caught wind of Choice Bank’s Wishing Well Program. Madyson knew she needed to take advantage of the opportunity while she could.

She did some quick research on suitable play equipment and submitted her wish requesting a ready to assemble playset, a Little Tykes playhouse and picnic table as well as a water table, which came to a total of $960.

With just a few finishing touches left, the playground was almost ready to debut along with the sunny, spring weather!

All together it took them just under a week to finish up the entire outdoor play area. Just in time for spring!

Knowing that other work would have to be done to prepare the outdoor area for the play equipment, the Wishing Well committee decided to grant more than the $960 that Madyson had requested—they ended up granting $3,000.

Excited to share the news with everyone, the board of directors called a staff meeting. The equipment was ordered and work to prep the outdoor area began.

Pat and five other volunteers had to first level out the ground with dirt and seed parts of it with grass. Then, cement slabs had to be laid and a frame for the sandbox was built and installed before they got to the actual playsets. All together it took them just under a week to finish up the entire outdoor play area. Just in time for spring!

After debuting in the spring, the new playground got its first taste of winter when the first snowfall of the season hit Walhalla in the middle of October.

“We’re proud of what we have. None of this would have been possible without the help of everyone in the community.”

Since then the daycare has added a third additional room to accommodate the 30 kids they currently have enrolled. Some of the kids are there full time. Some part-time. Others just before and after school. Either way, it’s never a dull day for Madyson and her five other staff members.

Looking back on how Kids Choice Child Care Center came to be and what it is now, Pat only has one thing to say: “We’re proud of what we have. None of this would have been possible without the help of everyone in the community.”