Project Playground looks for more donations, volunteers

Posted: Sunday, February 18, 2007

With spring on the way, Project Playground organizers are making a final push for donations and volunteers to build a virtual fantasyland for kids at Twin Lakes.

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Coordinators already have a list of nearly 700 people interested in helping build the playground, but they need still more for the two-week construction project.

Building work is planned from May 15 to 26, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. each day.

"We really want the community to feel part of it, in any way," said volunteer coordinator Catherine Pusich. "There are so many ways people can help."

There are plenty of jobs for all different ages and experience levels, Pusich said. They range from staffing a volunteer table, helping with construction, preparing and serving food and many more, she said.

"We literally can put everybody to work if they just sign up and say, 'I'm ready to work.'" Pusich said.

Coordinators have collected about 85 percent of the $475,000 they set out to raise nearly a year and a half ago.

"The exciting thing is we're getting close," co-chairman James King said. "We're really starting to see this thing come together."

Project coordinators met with a representative from Ithaca, N.Y.-based Leathers Associates earlier this week to get ready for the fast-approaching start date, King said.

Leathers Associates has helped with community-built playgrounds across the nation, including one in Haines.

Leathers Associates came to Juneau about a year ago to meet with school children around the community to help generate a design. Those ideas were put together for the final blueprint, which now includes an ice castle, tree fort and fishing boat, among other attractions, King said.

The community has a number of small neighborhood parks, but the playground at Twin Lakes will add to the character of the community, Pusich said.

"The kids are going to be able to spend hours and have all sorts of new adventures," she said.

Businesses and individuals have been incredibly generous through the planning process, Pusich said.

Alaska Marine Lines Vice President Kevin Anderson recently authorized a donation for the use of five 53-foot containers to ship construction materials to Juneau. The donation will save the project more than $20,000 and will help move an estimated 150 tons of material.

There are still components of the park that can be purchased by business - including slides and a wheelchair access ramp - King said. Numerous local businesses have stepped up so far to purchase key components, such as a mining maze, glacier rock wall and a lighthouse.

Organizers have completed the first of a three-week push in local schools called "Operation Volunteers" with the goal of finding another 500 volunteers in the next two weeks.

Those looking to volunteer with Project Playground can contact Pusich at 780-4525 or by e-mail at dpusich@gci.net. King can be reached at 789-5247. Volunteer and donation information is also available at www.juneauplayground.com.



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