Watertown man uses cooler project to serve his community

Local News

WATERTOWN, S.D. (KELO) — A man in Watertown is using water to lend a hand to his community.

Earl Baumgarn turned 71 last month. His granddaughter made him this sign on which his neighbors can write a greeting. A lot of people chose to write thank yous because of this water cooler he stocks.

“The first thing they say, ‘Is this yours?’ I says, ‘Yeah, help yourself.’ ‘Really?’ It’s hard for them to believe,” Baumgarn said.

He’s given away water and juice.

“The one thing that has really impressed me and makes me feel good, not only that it’s being used, they thank me for it,” Baumgarn said.

This project launched because of dehydration he experienced last August. Baumgarn had been working outside all day and forgot to drink water. It landed him in the hospital overnight to receive fluids.

“I did it all to myself. And as I’m recuperating the next few days, I’m sitting out here looking at the people going by on the jogging trail, and not many of them had water. And I thought, ‘I don’t want it to happen them that happened to me.’ So I put out the cooler,” Baumgarn said.

He hasn’t been the only one to stock it.

“One lady stopped and she actually put a case in the cooler,” Baumgarn said.

She even left him a note to remind him of the community’s gratitude.

“People matter, you know. We need to reach out and, ‘here you go.’ I don’t care what color you are, what race you are. People matter,” Baumgarn said.

If you’re on the Watertown bike path, you’ll typically find Earl out every day from six to noon, waving from his driveway.

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