The playground at Lewis House in Eagan, Minnesota, offers kids a space for carefree moments after the upheaval of fleeing domestic violence. That’s why Dan Hudson stepped up to help when he heard that their playground needed new wood chips.

On Sept. 9, Hudson brought together 40 volunteers and a dumpster donated by Budget Dumpster to clear out the old wood chips and set the stage for a safer playground for the kids at Lewis House.

Eastview High School Boys Cross Country Team at Work on Playground

Image Source: 360 Communities

Hudson’s volunteers were young people themselves. Members of the girls’ track and boys’ cross country teams at Eastview High School in Apple Valley, along with family members, worked all day in two shifts to get the job done.

From 9:30 a.m. to noon, the girls’ crew worked on the first stage of the playground transformation: removing the old wood chips and the underlying landscape fabric. By the time their task was complete, they had filled the donated dumpster to within a foot of the top.

East View High School Girls Track Team at Work on Playground

Image Source: 360 Communities

The boys’ crew worked from noon to 3 p.m. on the second stage of the project: hauling and spreading 70 cubic yards’ worth of new chips into place. The fresh wood chips, purchased from Northland Recreation, have no sharp edges and are designed to safely absorb the impact of falls from playground equipment.

Thanks to both crews’ work, most of the job is now complete. Hudson is looking for another small team of volunteers to move the rest of the new wood chips into place and then level the playground area before it will be ready for use again.

Girls Posing in Front of Donated Dumpster

Image Source: 360 Communities

Lewis House, which is operated by the 360 Communities organization, provides shelter, safety planning, emotional support, court advocacy and other resources to women and children who have survived domestic or sexual violence. At any given time, Lewis House is home to at least 20 kids, but children from the surrounding community also spend time at the playground while their mothers visit for support services.

A new and improved playground may seem like a small thing compared to everything else Lewis House offers its residents. But that “small thing” will play a big role in brightening the day of children in a difficult situation.

Interested in volunteering with 360 Communities? Take a look at their list of current needs. If you work for a nonprofit with your own cleanup project in the works, visit our donation page to learn about requesting a free dumpster.