In July, associates from the Cartersville Kohl’s volunteered to spend an entire day painting the clubhouse side of the organization’s building, painting everything from the walls to the doors themselves. The walls are no longer one uniform color, said Gordon Gilley, the club’s chief professional officer.
“It works really well. They’ve alternated colors. ... They all mesh, they’re not too bold, but it’s bright. And now we’ll back it up with bulletin boards and graphics and it’ll just be a fresh new start,” Gilley said.
Sheila Scott, who serves as the liaison at Kohl’s for volunteering employees, said the new paint and other improvements were needed to make sure the clubhouse was still an inviting place for the kids.
“Watching the children over the end of last school year, you could tell that it needed a refreshing on the inside. The kids, they were beginning to — you know how it’s not like a fresh paint or it’s not bright and cheerful in there — they kind of would begin not to take care of things,” she said.
Kohl’s has worked with the Boys and Girl’s Club since the beginning of the year, which is also its first year of involvement with the organization. According to Scott, the store associates spend two Wednesdays a month at the club, staying there from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Each visit involves five volunteers who also bring a $500 donation for the club to use on needed supplies. During their visits, the volunteers can read to the younger children, play games with them or help with homework if school is in session.
“To me, I think it’s a great thing that the Boys and Girls Club is there because it’s helping our kids have a safe place to go to,” Scott said. “It’s just rewarding to me to know that we’re helping kids and giving them something positive versus all the negative that’s out there.
“I think it’s great that our company, number one, allows us to do it, but then on the same note that we’ve got enough associates that care enough about this community that they not only work in, that they live in, to go out and volunteer.”
Kohl’s had previously constructed an outdoor rest area behind the club, called the oasis, before painting the building’s interior. Gilley believed it was rewarding for the Kohl’s associates to get involved with the organization.
“I don’t want to answer for them, but they really get a sense of fulfillment themselves for volunteering and helping out an agency that needs their help. So the physical project was just, I think, a culmination... They’ve helped with our kids directly, and now they’ve helped brighten and refurbish their facility,” he said.
Scott and the other volunteers saw the effects of their labors firsthand Wednesday when school came back in session. When the elementary-aged children arrived at the club, they were surprised at what they saw, Scott said.
“... I was there when they came in there on Wednesday and the kids were like, ‘Oh, wow, this is so pretty in here. We didn’t know you were going to do this.’ So it was pretty awesome to see and they behaved different. It was like it was so nice to them. ... It was great to see their faces, and that was the young, the elementary kids. They were so excited,” she said.
For their next project, the Kohl’s associates are planning on replacing the ceiling tiles in the clubhouse and then planting new flowers around the outdoor oasis. Seeing volunteers getting more involved with such projects impresses Gilley.
“Well, it’s amazing what, over the years, we’ve been able to accomplish; not only with these sponsors and these investors — [as] we like to call them — not just with their resources and their sweat equity, but also their time and their talent and their expertise,” he said. “Because usually one leads to the other. If they get involved reading stories to kids, all of a sudden they say, ‘Well, you know I could help out with this, this, this and this.’ It’s amazing how individually and collectively they start and continue to be engaged with our kids and our organization.”