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Businesses that give back: R & G Subaru, BTD, SJE Rhombus and more provide support for DL public schools

On hand for last month's $20,000 check presentation from R & G Subaru were (front row, right to left) Mya Boeke, Jaycie Sliper, Jack VanDam, Cooper Kuehn, Henry Olson, Vayda Flint, Rocco Mariotti, Sophia Karlgaard, Tristan Meeks and Brynley Fode; back row, Superintendent Doug Froke, Rossman Elementary Principal Jason Kuehn, Drew Larson and Matt Field of R & G Subaru and Roosevelt Elementary Principal Trisha Mariotti. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

Late last month, about a dozen elementary students and administrators from Detroit Lakes Public Schools gathered at R & G Subaru in Detroit Lakes for a $20,000 check presentation.

Though the check was made out to the "Detroit Lakes Public Education Foundation," the money had already been designated for the purchase of new library books for the media centers at both Rossman and Roosevelt elementary schools.

During the month of December, a portion of each new car sale from Subaru's 'Share the Love' promotion is reserved to be donated back to a local community project — and this year, Roosevelt and Rossman were the lucky recipients.

"We got all-new books for the libraries in the kindergarten and first grade classrooms at both Rossman and Roosevelt," said Rossman Principal Jason Kuehn. "We were able to purchase over 3,000 books."

According to Detroit Lakes Public Education Foundation member Gail Kotschevar, this was the first time that a local business donation had been funneled through the DLPEF.

"It was kind of a unique situation," Kotschevar said, noting that the foundation's contributions to the district tend to be for "innovative, cutting-edge" projects and equipment, such as three-dimensional printers for use in high school, middle school and elementary class projects; scientific calculators for Detroit Lakes High School classrooms; STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) activity kits; and Lego materials for use by the FIRST Lego League robotics team in Detroit Lakes, among others.

Nevertheless, the new books were something that was "very much needed," Kotschevar said, adding, "It was a wonderful thing they (Subaru) did."

Though Subaru's donation was one of the largest that the district has received in the past year, it was by no means the only local business to make donations benefiting the district's K-12 students in 2017-18, according to District Superintendent Doug Froke.

"The list is endless," he said. "They know our district, like others in the area, tries to do the best we can for our kids, but if there's something a little extra needed, that's when our businesses really step up to help."

"For the past two years the Detroit Lakes Public Foundation has also administered a grant from the SJE Rhombus Foundation," said DLPEF member Laurie Lewandowski, who is also the former chief executive officer of SJE Rhombus, and currently sits on its board of directors as well.

"The SJE Rhombus Grant for STEM Excellence will fund any creative K-12 classroom initiatives focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that are designed to improve, advance and enrich student learning in these areas," she added.

Grants can be awarded for up to $5,000.

"In 2017 this grant funded the 'Lego Club and FIRST Lego League competition teams' for all of the Detroit Lakes elementary schools," Lewandowski said. "In 2018, the SJE Rhombus Grant for STEM Excellence has provided funding for 3D printers at the Detroit Lakes High School and Rossman Elementary School.

"This is just a small part of the grants the SJE Rhombus Foundation has funded for Detroit Lakes school initiatives over the past 30 years," she added.

BTD Manufacturing is another local business that gives big when it comes to supporting local schools, said Superintendent Froke.

"They have been very generous over the years," he added.

Brittany Nordick, a human resources generalist at BTD, says that its Local Charitable Council, of which she is also a member, takes several donation requests from local school teachers over the course of the year, and fund as many of them as they can.

"We also go out into the high schools and do some activities there," she added. "We bring welders out to teach different welding techniques to the students, and sometimes give them projects to do."

For instance, she added, DLHS industrial technology students have actually constructed some carts for use on BTD's construction floor that are still in use.

"We also go in and teach blueprint reading," she added. "We walk through the whole process with them."

In addition, Nordick referred to a winter clothing drive conducted by BTD over the past winter.

"People brought in used and new clothing, gloves, hats, scarves, mittens, coats, and some even brought shoes and boots," she said.

Froke added that BTD's contributions of winter clothing for elementary students in need this past winter were "quite substantial."

Besides these business, Froke said that other contributors over the past year have included Lakeshirts, the Beardsley Marathon, Midwest Bank, Active Nutrition, 4 Seasons Car Wash, and several local restaurants, just to name a few.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454
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