By DEVIN WEEKS
The buildings on the grounds of Children's Village aren't just buildings.
They represent the nonprofit’s work and the people who support the work they do.
On Friday, Silverwood Theme Park presented Children's Village with a $100,000 donation. Silverwood's Marshal Jack, played by Chris Tortora, clad in his cowboy gear and wearing an ear-to-ear smile, applauded the staff and board members of Children's Village for their devotion to kids.
"It's incredible what you guys do," he said. "It's so unrewarding at times, and I'm sure there's times when you feel like you're not making a difference in people's lives. There's days when these people are hurt, and I'm sure there's days where you just think it's not worth it, but these aren't just buildings.
For about eight years, money collected on the Silverwood train during bandit “heists” has gone to Children’s Village. That amount is about $750,000. Including Silverwood’s monthly gifts and helping out when needed, the total amounts to $900,000.
"Every person who gives on the train is telling you, 900,000 times, 'We believe in what you guys are doing.' That's what this is. You guys are a staple of the community. If you ever feel like we don't know that as a community, 900,000 times we've told you."
"We’re super excited,” Silverwood Public Relations Manager Kailey Lieuallen said. "We want to give back to the surrounding communities. It’s such a great feeling, and this is such a great organization."
At least $60,000 was raised on the train and from donation cups placed throughout the park this summer. Silverwood owners Gary and Jeanne Norton pitched in the rest.
"It’s humbling to see a family like the Nortons and the commitment that they made and the commitment that they stand behind," Children's Village Executive Director Mark Wilson said. "We couldn't do this work without this type of support."
Sitting at a grand total of $900,000 in gifts to Children's Village, 2020 is sure to hit a milestone, or two.
"Next year, we're talking a million," Marshal Jack announced.
"And on our 30th anniversary," Wilson added.
Children's Village provides a multitude of services for babies and kids experiencing homelessness neglect and abuse. Services range from nutrition and health to clothing, shelter and transportation. In 2016, the nonprofit provided nearly 13,000 meals to kiddos thanks to the generosity of the community.