G & G Hauling and Excavating donated 20 tool sets to LaunchPad for the Future Builders program. Pictured (L to R) are Scott Wiley, Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce member relations manager; Barb Smolen, LaunchPad administrative assistant; Richard Groninger, G & G; Joel Groninger, G & G; Cary Groninger, G & G; Sherry Searles, LaunchPad director; and Rob Parker, Chamber president and chief executive officer. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
G & G Hauling and Excavating donated 20 tool sets to LaunchPad for the Future Builders program. Pictured (L to R) are Scott Wiley, Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce member relations manager; Barb Smolen, LaunchPad administrative assistant; Richard Groninger, G & G; Joel Groninger, G & G; Cary Groninger, G & G; Sherry Searles, LaunchPad director; and Rob Parker, Chamber president and chief executive officer. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Tools can help improve a child’s hand-eye coordination and other skills.

LaunchPad, the child care and early learning coalition established in October 2018, has started a new program called Future Builders and G & G Hauling and Excavating recently donated tool sets to help it move forward.

“We have a lot of early learning programs that use the HighScope Curriculum. It’s a research-based curriculum and a part of that is they have an area in their room where they do woodworking - a woodworking area - where they can use real tools, and work on their fine motor skills and problem solving,” said LaunchPad Director Sherry Searles. “So, a lot of our programs and teachers really wanted some of these types of things in their room and they can’t always afford the things that they want.”

Barb Smolen, LaunchPad administrative assistant, helped put together a Future Builders initiative. LaunchPad then reached out to several companies and builders from the community to ask for donations for the tools.

Searles thanked G & G Hauling and Excavating for coming through and donating 20 tool sets to the Future Builders program so that they could be shared with the programs. The tool sets include a hammer, two screwdrivers, safety goggles and a measuring tape.

Searles said G & G was the first company to jump on board of Future Builders and she hoped other companies would as well “so we have more to share with our community programs.”

Cary Groninger, president of G & G Hauling and Excavating, said, “Our company is one that’s been around. It’s our 56th year of business here in the community and we’ve always looked for ways we can give back to the community, and this is a way that we’re able to give so kids getting started can get excited about the construction industry and hopefully maybe they’ll be an employee some day, as well as being able to give back to the community that we love.”

Searles said, “We know that some families or even some programs would look at this (tool set) and get a little scared, but this is really an approach and a way that children are very safe in the way that they use the tools. They may start out with a mallet and a golf tee and learn how to hammer, and then actually work up to using real tools. So, just promoting a lot of executive function-type things with the materials  that the children receive, so giving them more real-life things than the toy version.”

Children using the tool sets would be in the age range of 3 to 5 years old, she said.

Growing up, Cary said, he and his brother Richard had a giant box of LEGOs that they loved.

“I think those motor skills that you learn when you’re little kind of attracts you to a career path in the future, so I think this is a great opportunity for those kids that may not get exposure to the construction industry to have some exposure and something some day they might choose to want to go down because there will still be a need for people to build homes for people to live in and other things in our community, but little things like this you don’t think seem like much, but that can be a big thing for a kid that never had a chance to play like we did at the shop and being around that construction,” he said.

If any other businesses are interested in donating to the Future Builders or any other LaunchPad program, Searles said they can just reach out to LaunchPad at the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce.

“We’d be happy to have more companies support our programs,” she said.

For more information about LaunchPad, visit the website at https://www.kchamber.com/get-involved/launch-pad/.

For more about the HighScope Curriculum, visit the website at https://highscope.org/.