COEUR d'ALENE - Kids at Winton Elementary lingered Wednesday morning in front of a new addition to their school's campus, an 8-by-12-foot hickory shed on the sideline of the outdoor play area in front of the school.
The children admired the large image of a wolf's head as it stared out from behind a sheet of Plexiglas secured to the wooden storage locker's front door.
Named the Wolf Den, the shed is the latest product of The Coeur Group's Locker Program, an effort that creates special storage areas in schools where kids in need of basic items like snow boots, hats, gloves, and school supplies can get them.
"The kids, all they've been talking about is this, and the picture is a hit," said Winton Principal Michelle Williams to Coeur Group members who gathered at the school to officially "hand off" the completed structure.
The school also received from the nonprofit, a check for $500 to purchase items to stack the shelves inside the locker.
The funds will be put to good use, Williams said.
"When we have the first snow and some of the kiddos don't have boots, we can send to the office and have a few pairs for them to try on," she said.
If the children don't have snow pants, they aren't allowed to play on the field, so the school usually has pants on hand to give to those children. Each fall, there are school supplies for children whose guardians have trouble purchasing the items.
The items are all donated by community members or by organizations like The Coeur Group.
A collection of about 30 businessmen younger than age 40, The Coeur Group has been creating similar lockers for local schools for several years, pulling together community resources, raising funds and donating their own time and sweat to build the storage areas.
Coeur d'Alene and Lake City high schools, Project Bridge, Borah Elementary and Lakeland Junior High have lockers.
Coeur Group member TJ Barnhart said another one is in the works at Bryan Elementary, and the group has plans for one more sometime this year, although that school has not yet been decided.
Barnhart said the value of the Winton Wolf Den is roughly $3,000. The structure itself was supplied at a discount by a Coeur d'Alene business, Old Hickory Sheds of North Idaho. Hoffman Lock and Key also contributed to the project, donating time and materials to secure the locker.
The Coeur Group partnered with the EXCEL Foundation and the naming rights to the structure were auctioned off at a foundation fundraiser. The rights went to Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty, for a price. A sign on the Wolf Den says it was made possible by Mark and Annette Johnson, Coldwell Banker and The Coeur Group.
The Wolf Den is named for the school's mascot, the Winton Wolves.
The nonprofit Coeur Group was formed in 2004. Its focus is to serve the community through volunteerism and fundraising.