DAYTONA BEACH   — Home Depot is known as one of the places to go for all things connected to sprucing up one’s abode.

But the company also has an interest in helping the look of schools of higher learning.

Recently, the company awarded a $40,000 grant  to Bethune-Cookman University to be used to help beautify the historic campus. 

“Retool Your School” is a Home Depot program that assists colleges and universities by completing campus improvement projects nationwide. 

“This year Home Depot is pledging $1 million for 30 universities or colleges,” said Michael Lottering, store manager, for the Daytona Beach Home Depot store. “So, during this year they expanded the Retool Your School grant between $20,000 to $70,000 per school. Bethune-Cookman was one of the schools that won. They were granted $40,000. They can buy products from Home Depot to beautify the outside area.” 

Home Depot employees Michael Lottering, Brian Rinehart and Charlene Davis L/R, bolt a bracket to a picnic table, Monday September 20, 2021 during a campus improvement project with Bethune Cookman University students.

Bethune-Cookman was selected by students, alumni and advocates to receive the grant.

The program has provided more than 140 sustainable campus improvement grants to 87{49352ce17ba8b8c977b46090d4022735cbbf9c8d2a96e7181f87be9b36a1fd69} of the nation’s HBCUs since it was established in 2009.

B-CU student body president and senior Leonte Tukes said students jumped at the chance to help out with the project. 

“We had about 30 students come out and help,” said Tukes, 21. “It means so much to us. We just had concrete tables in the beginning that were really old. So we replaced them. This is going to bring a lot of vibrancy and newness to the campus for this new era that we’re in.”

Bethune Cookman University students gather, Monday September 20, 2021 at one of the new picnic tables, part of a campus improvement project with Home Depot.

Tukes said in addition to the picnic tables there will be umbrellas attached to the picnic tables, light fixtures and some spirit banners that’ll be on each pole around the campus.

“It means the world to us to know that we can see the funding come in and that we’re able to actually help beautify our campus,” said 19-year-old student Donneisha McFadden. “We got whoever we could to come out and help. A lot of students were in class. But we do have a nice amount of students representing different organizations and different classes that came out to help.” 

Bethune Cookman University students gather, Monday September 20, 2021 at the new picnic tables, part of a campus improvement project with Home Depot.

McFadden said the new picnic tables will definitely be utilized. 

“We are going to come out more,” she said. “The quad is the heart of our university. We take pride in it. We’re going to come out more and enjoy it. We are so grateful to Home Depot.”

Bethune Cookman University students Emmanuel Fields and Heaven-Leigh Nathan, center both juniors, join Home Depot employees Charlene Davis, at left, and Michael Lottering, at right, Monday September 20, 2021 bolting a bracket to a picnic table during a campus improvement project

“The students were given the privilege of deciding how to use the grant money,” said Hiram Powell, interim president of BC-U via email last week. “They chose a beatification project for the Quad (the primary outdoor hangout for students). The students enjoyed working with the Home Depot staff and are proud of their new accommodations.”

Powell said there will be some additional campus upgrades in the near future.

“In partnership with SODEXO, the university’s food service and physical plant services provider, the university is pursuing ongoing upgrades including exterior painting of campus buildings, a $2,000,000 upgrade to the main HVAC system, improved landscaping and technology upgrades.” 

Bethune Cookman University students and a group of Home Depot employees, in orange t-shirts, gather for a photograph, Monday September 20, 2021 during a campus improvement project on the quad.