When Osoyoos Child Care Centre manager Karen Grieg got a call from Michelle Quail in early May, asking if the Osoyoos Credit Union could bring cake and balloons, she thought that was a real treat.

But what the OCU team brought with that cake and balloons about knocked Karen’s socks off.

“They called us and asked us if we were up to having cake and balloons,” recalls Karen of that May 6 visit. “We were having cake and balloons; I didn’t think anything more of it — I mean, I’m down for cake on a Friday afternoon.”

The chocolate cake, however, was shaped like a cheque. Karen was speechless after she was prompted to read the cake’s message.

“Need money for a new play structure?” the message read. “OCU can help with $10,000.”

“I just kind of skimmed over and I saw the $1 and I thought, well, wonderful, we’re getting $1,000,” Karen laughs.

It wasn’t until she was encouraged to count zeros that the size of the grant funding OCU was providing started to sink in.

Speechless, did we say? Actually Karen had a few choice words — some of which it was a good thing her young ‘uns didn’t hear.

The grant came at an opportune time for the child care centre.

“In March, when we could apply for these grants, was when we were hearing about (Osoyoos Secondary) school and the child care centre was just losing their play structure to licensing,” recalls Ms. Quail, OCU’s marketing guru.

“So, we thought wouldn’t it be great if we could help the kids in our community by providing the centre with support to buy this play structure.”

The application went in and OCU learned it was one of the 15 lucky recipients of a Concertra Financial empowering Your Communities $10,000 grant.

Not wanting to prematurely raise hopes, nothing was said to the care centre about the grant application; the Credit Union took advantage of that to pull off its ambush random act of kindness.

“I just thought it was great for the kids,” said Karen. “It was a good way to say we’re great for the community.”

The grant will cover about half of the new play structure; the centre has enough socked away to cover the remaining cost and an additional $25,000 it needs for resilience surfacing for the structure.

“Playground standards say anything over a certain height has to have a surface that absorbs a fall for that height,” explains Karen. “[The surfacing] meets the criteria for the play structure.”

She expects to have all the funding necessary for the structure in place by June, giving the centre the summer season to put the playground in place in time for September.

Of course, there are those two large boxes tucked away near the centre’s back door.

“This is our infant-toddler space,” Karen says of an area above the playground. “The two boxes are their play structure, but we can’t put them on the asphalt, so that’s another $15,000 we have to find.”

Anyone have a little ice cream to go with that cake and balloons?

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