Bears on the Beach fundraising picks up steam

Matt Gardner
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Waskesiu Foundation Playground Renewal Committee chair Derwin Arnstead accepts funds from Luke and Ava Norman for the Bears on the Beach playground renewal project. Ava raised $20 by selling golf balls, while Luke donated the contents of his piggy bank.

The Waskesiu playground renewal project is gaining momentum with a rising tide of community support as lake season gets underway.

Donations from children and families, support from local businesses and a range of upcoming fundraisers are putting the Waskesiu Foundation well on track to achieving its goal of raising $295,000 for the Bears on the Beach project by August.

“I think right now that it’s going a bit better than we would have expected,” Waskesiu Foundation board chair Jim Kerby said.

“We seem to be gaining really good momentum, especially in the last few weeks … I think the awareness within the townsite, particularly within Waskesiu but also in other communities like Prince Albert, is growing.”

The Bears on the Beach project involves the construction of a new nature-themed play structure at the playground featuring a large tree, life-sized sculpture of a mother bear and her cubs, tree climbers themed as conifers and vines as well as stainless steel slides, rope activities, chinup bars and stepping stones.

Thus far, the Waskesiu Foundation has raised approximately $225,000 for the project.

“The reason we want to raise (the $295,000) by August is so we can put the equipment order in and get the piling work done on the beach so that we’re ready to install things for next spring,” Kerby noted.

Much of the community has chipped in to lend their support to the project.

One of the most recent contributions came from siblings Ava and Luke Norman, who helped raise funds on their own initiative.

In an official release sent out by the Waskesiu Foundation, parents Trent Norman and Magel Sutherland noted, “Our family is very proud to support such a great project.  The playground is the first stop when we arrive at the town-site, and the sand-filled shoes continue until the day we have to go home!

“Our daughter raised over $20 selling golf balls, and our son decided he’d donate the contents of his piggy bank.  We’d better expect sandy shoes for years to come!”

Meanwhile, five other children last week pooled $25 each for a total of $125 donated to Bears on the Beach.

We seem to be gaining really good momentum, especially in the last few weeks. Jim Kerby

Another recent donation came from a steak night sponsored by a local charity that raised more than $1,000 for the project.

Kerby noted the impact of the summer season on fundraising possibilities.

“People are now starting to get back to their summer lake lives … Essentially what’s happened is now that the kids are back in the community and their parents are there, they’re learning about this exciting project.”

The coming months promise an intensification of fundraising efforts with a number of events planned.

A local movie theatre is planning to show a special matinee of the Disney film Bears, with all proceeds going to the playground renewal.

The Waskesiu Foundation is also planning a teddy bear picnic for children and encouraging them to participate in a Canada Day parade that will feature a Bears on the Beach theme.

Another local business already helping out is the Hawood Inn, which is currently selling small bears in their main reception area and donating all proceeds to the project.

Kerby was optimistic that the foundation would be able to achieve its goal by August.

“I think … as it gets picked up on in the community, the ball’s just going to keep rolling,” he said.

Donations to Bears on the Beach can be made by cheque (mailed to the Waskesiu Foundation, Box 242, Saskatoon, SK, S7K 3K4) or online at, specifying “playground” when donating.

Charitable receipts will be issued for all donation exceeding $25, while donations of more than $100 will be recognized on a special display.

See also:

Waskesiu Foundation raising funds for playground renewal

Organizations: Waskesiu Foundation, Prince Albert, Hawood Inn

Geographic location: Waskesiu, Saskatoon

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