At Solutions®, many of our team members volunteer their talents and personal time to worthy causes in the community. One such event is the Sand in the City sand sculpture competition, which raises money for a non-profit organization that uses puppetry to educate children on important issues.
After taking home three "Bronze Buckets" in as many years, the team earned top honors at this year’s Sand in the City. They walked away with both the "Golden Shovel" and the "Sandy Gavel" Judges’ Choice Award.
"Everything turned out really well," said Linda Hilbush, a web designer at Solutions. "We were pretty excited to find out that it’s the first year one team has won both those awards."
The team’s winning design, entitled "Pig Out," depicted a whimsical group of wily porkers attempting escape from the pen. Work on the design began in May, including help from an architect. A clay model was then created as a prototype. June found the team practicing creating the entire sand sculpture once a week in the Solutions parking lot.
"We wanted something that would appeal to kids and be immediately recognizable," Linda said.
The competition began at 10 a.m. on a hot July day amid the 450 tons of sand dumped onto Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square. Each team was allotted a 14′ x 16′ platform. The first step involves positioning the plywood forms. Sand is then dumped into the boxes, mixed with water and pounded until packed tight. At this point, the forms are gently removed, and the real artistry begins.
"This year it was difficult in two different ways," said Mindy Bush, web designer and team captain. "First, it was a tall design and, second, it was pretty complicated with lots of detail."
All for a Good Cause
The efforts of the 21 teams participating go to benefit the Kids on the Block Awareness Program, which uses puppetry to teach children about health, social and safety issues.
"It’s really a worthwhile organization," said Mindy. "They teach kids about social issues that they don’t necessarily have an awareness of. Even kids who don’t need help benefit from learning about other kids and their lives."
The annual Sand in the City event helps finance the nearly 550 free puppet shows Kids on the Block performs for over 68,000 children each year in the area. In addition to being a fun, interactive art, puppetry can be a powerful educational tool for children, giving them a safe place to talk about their concerns and fears. Each year, hundreds of children are connected to appropriate support and services thanks to the shows.
"Community involvement is everyone’s responsibility," said Mindy. "This is one way we can do that that is also a lot of fun."
As Cheryl, buyer for Solutions, put it:
“Sun, fun and community support – how could I not get involved?”
The 2006 competition raised $120,000 to help finance programs to benefit 70,000 elementary school children in and around Portland.
The Solutions team also made and sold sand-dollar cookies to the 50,000 people who visited the sculptures throughout the weekend.
"It was a lot of hard work, but it was a lot of fun, too," Linda said. "I’d do it again."
Kids on the Block
The Kids on the Block Awareness Program-Portland is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit educational program that grew out of an award-winning international program created in 1977 by a teacher in Washington, D.C. Today, there are more than 1,000 Kids on the Block troupes around the world. For more information, visit www.powerfulpuppetry.org.