By Cursha Pierce-Lunderman, Fort Jackson LeaderJanuary 4, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson's boundless playground became even more pretty and playful at the recent landscaping unveiling ceremony. Cheryl Jackson, the Fort Jackson ACS Exceptional Family Member Program manager, won $750 of landscaping in a raffle and donated the winnings to the playground project.
"It was our first year attending the AUSA (Association of the United States Army) conference, and I didn't even know that I had won anything until Col. Love told me," Jackson said. "We worked so hard on getting the playground together that this seemed like the perfect way to complete it all."
The wheelchair friendly playground is located behind the new SKIESUnlimited Family Center and has been a project of the EFMP office since August 2010. The playground was completed in April without any greenery.
"With budget cutbacks these days, the first thing to go is usually the landscaping budget," said Jim Olsen of Plans, Analysis, and Integration Office.
Jackson won the landscaping gift from Weston Solutions, Inc., and Fort Jackson PAIO added trees from a Palmetto Pride grant to provide the plants needed for the landscaping project. Fort Jackson Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation employees planted the shrubbery over the course of a few weeks.
"My goal is to have every building on post with a tree because the shading reduces the cost on the energy bill. So this landscaping has a huge economic impact as well as beautifying the area for the children and families here," Olsen said.
Jackson said she chose to purchase the 93 bushes and a Carolina Sapphire tree to enhance the playground area and serve as a natural barrier for the children who will use it.
"Many children with special needs like to take off running and since we didn't have money for a fence, the shrubs will create a natural fence and help keep them in the playground," Jackson said.
The Carolina Sapphire tree is unique, like the playground, and will be integrated into the future holiday traditions of the SKIESUnlimited Family Center, according to Olsen.
"The tree was invented by Clemson University and is engineered to withstand the heat and drought of the weather here in South Carolina," Olsen said. "It could grow to be around 40 feet tall so the kids are going to decorate it today and try to take pictures over the years as the tree and children grow up here."
Children from the CDC Home placed Christmas ornaments on the tree during the unveiling ceremony to celebrate the new addition.
Olsen said that Jackson's donation is about more than just giving trees. It shows how people work together to make things happen on post.
"I want the landscape of the garrison to be that we take care of our Soldiers and their Families," Olsen said. "When we don't have funding to do work the traditional way, we have people, our most important resource, who find a way."