Locked on to a worthy cause: Bainbridge student raises money for special education program

Kimberly MacLeod stands next to her padlock-filled fence. - Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review
Kimberly MacLeod stands next to her padlock-filled fence.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / Bainbridge Island Review

Kimberly MacLeod has a real lock on her senior project at Bainbridge High School.

Well, make that 1,408 of them.

The 18-year-old’s culminating project is a unique fundraiser for the school’s special education program.

MacLeod has put together a steel-framed fence “mural” where people can donate $10 to have an engraved padlock hung on the structure.

When finished — MacLeod hopes by May — the 8-foot-wide-by-9-foot-tall sculpture will be placed outside the school.

The idea for the project came from Germany.

MacLeod said her father Barry MacLeod, a pilot for UPS, came up with the idea while crossing a bridge outside of Berlin and seeing a fence that was covered with engraved padlocks. Vendors nearby were selling locks to passersby, who were putting messages on them and hanging them with the hundreds of others that had been hung before.

MacLeod said she’s since learned of similar memorials in India and France.

After getting approval for her project at BHS, she turned to Dale Cavanaugh of Versatile Machining, who helped design and build the fence, and then to Kitsap Powder Coating, which put a bright blue finish on the frame.

MacLeod then began searching for locks that could be used for the project.

That part turned out to be harder than expected, she said. Most of the padlocks she found had brand names imprinted on them, with no space for any engraving.

Then, there was the sheer number needed for the project.

“It’s been really difficult to find padlocks in such a large bulk,” she said.

And that’s where a slow boat from China entered the picture.

MacLeod found a company in Hong Kong that could manufacture the locks, which needed to be blank, thin and fit the size of the netting in the fence. She placed a minimum order, for 1,440, and the locks — in 10 boxes weighing just under 300 pounds — finally arrived on March 28.

Now, she just needs to sell the padlocks, get each one engraved, and wrap up the project in time to present a check with the donated proceeds in time for her graduation this June.

People can buy a lock for the project by visiting the Bainbridge High website, and following the link under “BHS Showcase” to an order form.

Messages are limited to 30 characters, and must be appropriate for a school setting.

“It’s open to the entire community,” MacLeod added.

MacLeod has sold about a hundred locks so far.

“They have been ranging from memorial things, thanks you’s, quotes, dates, students that have been here, teams, clubs, businesses,” she said.

Her uncle bought seven, for example, and wanted them placed in a row.

“He asked me to put a letter on each lock spelling the word ‘Imagine,’ from the John Lennon song,” she said.

MacLeod is excited about the chance to present the proceeds from the fundraiser to the BHS Special Education Department.

She developed a strong tie to the school district’s program while in seventh and eighth grades, when she’d spend her lunch helping out with students in the program. She’s since been involved in the TOPSoccer program for young athletes with disabilities.

Her goal is to raise $14,000 for special education students at Bainbridge High.

“They are always there to help us. There are a lot of things that they do for people around the school that go unnoticed,” she said.

“This is me returning that favor,” MacLeod said.

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