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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Those charms dangling from the blue bridge at Riverfront Park are funding improvements there. Here’s how to ‘be a part of it.’

For a $125 donation, a personal message will be etched on a unique stainless steel charm and displayed along the Blue Bridge in Riverfront Park until a final location is determined. The Spokane Parks Foundation’s “Leave your mark in Riverfront Park!” program ensures that investments made into Riverfront Park today will benefit the community by funding new projects and programs for visitors and families.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
For a $125 donation, a personal message will be etched on a unique stainless steel charm and displayed along the Blue Bridge in Riverfront Park until a final location is determined. The Spokane Parks Foundation’s “Leave your mark in Riverfront Park!” program ensures that investments made into Riverfront Park today will benefit the community by funding new projects and programs for visitors and families. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Small silver charms dangle from fencing on the blue bridge in Riverfront Park as part of a fundraiser for construction projects and programs in the park.

The nonprofit Spokane Parks Foundation’s fundraiser has been successful since it launched a year ago, said the foundation’s executive director, Terri Fortner. “I love the charm program,” she said. “It is a really nice way for people to donate to the park.”

Not everyone can afford to give large donations, Fortner said, but the $125 charms are a more affordable way for the community to show their support. “This is an opportunity for the entire community to contribute,” she said.

The Parks Foundation raises money for projects in all local parks, and every year a grants committee reviews applications before distributing between $30,000 and $75,000. The charm fundraiser, however, is specific to Riverfront Park.

When the improvements to Riverfront Park were announced, the foundation stepped up to add amenities that the city couldn’t afford, Fortner said, such as the ’74 butterflies, a signature basketball court near Ice Age Park and a dog park.

The foundation was able to find sponsors for the two largest projects, the playground and the basketball court.

MultiCare sponsored the large basketball court.

Providence Healthcare sponsored the accessible playground on Havermale Island. “It’s 100 percent accessible,” Fortner said. “It’s for all ages and all abilities.”

Fortner said she’s pleased that the playground is inclusive and everyone can play in it. “It has to be one of the most beautiful projects I’ve ever worked on,” she said.

The charms can be purchased in the shape of a dog bone, a butterfly or a circle. The funds raised from the dog bone charms are going toward the creation of a dog park. The Spokane Humane Society announced earlier this year that it would contribute $250,000 toward the park, estimated to be a third of the cost. The Parks Foundation is raising the rest of the money.

Those dog bone charms will hang at the dog park, once it is designed and completed.

The only hiccup in the charm program has been vandalism caused by people who attempt to remove charms from the bridge.

“Some people are super creative with what they say on their charm, and I think it speaks to people,” Fortner said.

Missing or damaged charms are replaced, but Fortner said it hasn’t been a big issue.

“The power of good seems to be in force,” she said. “People love it.”

Money raised above the amount needed will be used to pay for future improvements and programs, which could range rom a teen adventure camp to story time at the Looff Carrousel.

At the beginning of the fundraiser, the charms were $100 each. Now, however, the cost has risen to $125. “The cost of materials and production have increased,” Fortner said. “Inflation gets everybody, including little nonprofits.”

The charms can be ordered at givebutter.com/charms.

People can put three lines of text on the back, with between 12 and 14 characters and/or spaces per line, depending on which charm is selected.

Fortner said the charms can be great gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and birthdays. “It’s a great way to honor important people,” she said.

The charms also serve as a lasting reminder of those who have contributed to Riverfront Park’s amenities, she said.

“Get your name on it,” she said. “Build it. Be a part of it.”

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