AUBURN — To Catherine Elliott, the Boys & Girls Club's Auburn-Lewiston Clubhouse finally smells right.
Only 10 months ago, she posed for pictures on the club's gymnasium floor with thousands of used yogurt lids that she collected to win a $50,000 grant from Kaboom! and yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm. The 4,679 lids temporarily fouled the air with the smell of sour milk.
The memory stayed with Elliott on Saturday as she helped install a new floor in the gym with the contest's proceeds.
"I can see this tangible product," she said. "And it smells a lot better."
25 volunteers — including kids, alumni of the club, volunteers from the
community and Elliott — spent Saturday morning fitting floor
pieces together like an interlocking puzzle. The flooring, made of a light, recycled material, was installed atop an old layer of vinyl that protected kids from the concrete beneath.
The old flooring did little to cushion falls. The new flooring will be ideal and will be used the moment kids arrive on Monday, said Andie Hannon, who manages the clubhouse.
"This room is used every day," Hannon said. Games such as basketball, dodge ball, volleyball and double-dutch jump rope all are played here.
It's the kind of change that Elliott, a Bates College sophomore from Minnesota, thought about when she discovered the contest over breakfast last fall. She noticed the stacks of yogurt in the dining hall fridge. All were
from Stonyfield. All had the identical "Enter to Win" blue caps.
The former Girl Scout spent weeks gathering the lids from the school's dining hall, washing, drying and stacking them. None of the other 100 applicants came close.
Stonyfield executives notified Elliott and Hannon about the win in February, but it took until Saturday for the money and the volunteer help to be available.
Beginning at 9 a.m., volunteers installed the bulk of the $35,000 floor in less than three hours. Meanwhile, others worked in the lot outside, clearing brush, scrubbing the walls and making space for new picnic tables.
Roger Charest, a freshman at Edward Little High School, said he helped for the same reason so many kids join a Boys & Girls Club.
"I just want something to do," he said.
He was joined by Bryce Minnich and three other workers from the Wal-Mart distribution center in Lewiston. Also working was Donald Walsh of Lewiston, a middle-aged man who'd attended the Portland club as a teenager.
"I come for the kids," Walsh said.
Ashley Jellison, who attended until she graduated from Edward Little last spring, believes the boys and girls will appreciate the changes.
"They're going to go crazy," she said.