A $21,000 Walmart Foundation grant will be used to replace field tarps at the Field of Dreams Sports Complex in Van Buren.
Michael Lindsey, Walmart director of public affairs, and Jeff Mathis, Walmart Van Buren general manager, presented the grant check on Tuesday.
"For Walmart, the key is to give back to the communities where we live and serve," Lindsey said. "Sports is a way to get kids to engage and be more active, so that’s something we really try to support."
Walmart is focused on support of healthier living and active lifestyles, Lindsey said.
Cindy Faldon, Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren executive director, Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman and Paul Dunn, City of Van Buren parks manager accepted the check, which was granted to the club to be used at the sports complex.
Heavy rains in December 2015 caused flooding in Crawford County and the surrounding region. Both Lee Creek in Van Buren and the Arkansas River peaked at levels far into their major flooding zones.
One of the hardest hit in Crawford County was the Field of Dreams at 1 Toothaker Drive in Van Buren, which was in the midst of clean up and rebuilding efforts from flooding in May 2015.
Water levels in the sports complex buildings reached more than four feet (50 inches) in the December rains, Dunn said in an earlier interview. Water levels reached about 43 inches in May.
Dunn, his staff and volunteers were able to get most items out of the buildings before they were damaged in the December rains, including all equipment and tools, he said.
Damages at the sports complex included fences at 10 of the 12 fields, and all five field tarps were ruined, he said.
The Walmart grant money will be used to replace the five tarps, Dunn said.
"What this does, it helps us - especially during the rainy months - for leagues to keep on playing," Dunn said. "It helps us tarp the fields so kids can continue to play."
Much of the baseball season last year was cancelled after the spring floods. Repairs from the May flooding were about two weeks away from completion when the December rains hit, Dunn said.
During the presentation Tuesday, Mathis commented on the impact of the flooding to the Field of Dreams, which hosts seven to ten tournaments each year.
"To have two floods in seven months….. One is bad, two is devastating," Mathis said.
About 280 area kids participate in the Boys and Girls Club’s spring baseball program, Faldon said.
"I know our kids, parents and staff are excited for the chance to be on the baseball fields again," Faldon said. "We are very grateful to Walmart for its generosity and support of our local youth programming. This grant will help ensure that our members have the best opportunity possible to play and reap the benefits that come from being part of summer team sports."
Last year, Boys and Girls Club league members had to travel to Fort Smith and Alma to complete the season, Faldon said.
"If you add in the parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents, you’re up to thousands affected by the Field of Dreams being out of commission, and that’s just with the Boys and Girls Club," Faldon said.
While Faldon appreciated being hosted in nearby cities, she said it’s important for players to enjoy games "in their own backyard."