Sequim moms having great time collecting $50,000 for playground

SEQUIM — Designing a playground for children from all over the city is a blast.

You get to add four slides, a forest of swinging bars, spinning wheels, sun-yellow roofs and the latest thing, a serpentine climbing wall.

Raising $50,000 to build it isn’t as much fun.

Or so five Helen Haller Elementary mothers thought.

Carla Waite, mother of the new-play-structure plan, was told it would take two to five years to muster the sum in Sequim.

Waite didn’t have that much time.

Her husband is in the Coast Guard, and after three years here their family will be transferred again by 2007.

So in October, Waite, mother of Celsey, 10, and Cody, 8, started talking to fellow Haller Parent Teacher Organization officers Alwynn Lewis, Danielle Patterson, Cheryl O’Mera and Judi Troutman, and soon after, the women made a plan.

They picked Playcraft, a Grants Pass, Ore., playground equipment maker, and designed the 50- by 60-foot structure they believe will provide the most possible fun.

With $5,000 from last year’s PTO Family Fun Night, they went to Sequim developer and business owner Bill Littlejohn, who owns Olympic Ambulance Service and local senior retirement communities, for advice on how to continue fundraising.

Littlejohn and Sara Maloney, president of the Boys & Girls Club of the Olympic Peninsula board, provided that input and then some — they pledged to raise $20,000 for the PTO group.

“We didn’t really ask (Littlejohn) for money, but he volunteered,” said Lewis.

Donation quest starts

The quest for more donations began Dec. 2. To the women’s amazement, money poured in.

Fundraising, they discovered, can be downright exhilarating.

Over the past six weeks, the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe gave $5,000. Wal-Mart donated $500; dentist David McDonald sent $550; a Sequim woman dropped by the school with a $100 check.

Other local families and firms contributed, and the Boys & Girls Club landed a $4,000 grant for the project.

The play structure, on the Haller campus at 350 W. Fir St., will be practically next door to the Boys & Girls Club’s Sequim site, and it may well become a magnet for all Sequim children.

That’s what the PTO moms had in mind.

“We want this for everybody,” said Lewis.

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