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Big things happening at Sunshine & Rainbows

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By Nick Johansen

 

Big things are happening at Sunshine & Rainbows and Lil’ Tigers Preschool in Red Oak.

Director Alex McFarland, who took over the position a year ago, said the child and daycare center recently completed an overhaul of the facility’s many pieces of playground equipment.

“We got all new playground equipment from Dixie Playground, which is state and federally certified. They came by and showed us their products. We were looking at a cost of $50,000 to get all new playground equipment based on our research, and this was sold to us in entirety for $20,000, so based on the price we decided to go for it. We’re on a payment plan for it and are doing fundraisers to help pay it off,” McFarland said.

McFarland estimated the existing playground equipment that was replaced was over a decade old. The new playground equipment has been a big hit with the kids.

“They love it. They were so excited about all the new equipment. When we first got it put in, it rained the entire week and the kids were so sad they couldn’t go out and play on it. They were looking out the window with sad expressions on their faces.”

While one project has been completed, McFarland said they are looking to upgrade everything in the center in order to reach a five-star quality rating.

“We’ve been looking at re-renovations. We’ve re-floored part of the building. The school-age side still needs to be done, and we’re looking for a grant to finish that portion. Once that is finished, we want to repaint the rooms and make everything look nice and new. Another of our goals is to paint the siding on the outside of the building to make it more visually appealing,” commented McFarland.

One of the major goals, McFarland said, involves building up their infant room.

“We’re looking into either an expansion to our infant room once we get the funding, or moving the infant room to the school-age side of the building once we get the flooring project done so we have a larger capacity for infants. That seems to be where our biggest need is right now, and we only have a capacity for eight infants at the moment,” said McFarland.

In addition to their fundraisers and grants, Sunshine & Rainbows accepts any donation they can, including donations of volunteer time.

“Any volunteer work we can possibly get right now would be amazing. We just got a grant for $1,000 from Johnson Controls, and with that, their employees are each donating four hours of their time for a one-month time span. We’re putting together a list of all the things they can do to help us, and we’ll be using some of the grant funding for the purchase of supplies.”

The facility’s current QRS rating is a level two, and McFarland hopes to reach a level four by next year.

“I was originally shooting for a three-star rating, but then I discovered we were only one point away from a four star rating. Every two years we can re-up, so my goal is to secure the four-star rating and then in a couple of years go for that five-star rating,” McFarland said.