Half of $8,500 fundraising goal has been met

By Mindy Rubenstein

Photos by Danny Minkow – Children from the Toco Hills area get their say Feb. 12 in envisioning what the new playground at Kittredge Park should look like.

The Toco Hills community may soon have a neighborhood playground, thanks to an $85,000 grant, but the community has only a few weeks left to raise the matching 10 percent to earn the grant.

Friends of Kittredge Park, which oversees the park off North Druid Hills Road within the neighborhood of Merry Hills, won the grant from Washington, D.C.-based KaBOOM!, a nonprofit group that works with communities and corporate sponsors to build community playgrounds.

The grant was funded by Foresters, a life insurance and investment company.

The community must raise $8,500 by March 25 to ensure that the project goes forward. Three weeks into the campaign, 51 donors had pledged nearly half the required money, including $1,700 from the North Amanda Civic Association.

“This means we really have the chance and capability to make the playground a reality,” said Toco Hills resident Danny Minkow, who is spearheading the fundraising effort. “Every donation, no matter the amount, is very helpful. But we need them soon.”

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/Playground2015.

The playground will sit on the lot adjacent to Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael. Next to this lot is the somewhat obscure path leading into the main area of the park, which consists primarily of a wildlife preserve with trails, bridges and creeks. The park recently received an overhaul by park volunteers, who installed benches, cleared paths and removed invasive plant species.

Many of the Jewish residents of Toco Hills observe Shabbat, which means walking to synagogues and homes for meals and classes. Some of the park trails provide shortcuts.

The playground would draw families from throughout Merry Hills, as well as nearby neighborhoods. The closest playground is at Mason Mills Park on Clairmont Road, more than two miles from Kittredge Park.

A meeting Feb. 12, dubbed Design Day, helped plan and design the playground. Parents brought their children, who were asked to draw their ideal playground, and the drawings were presented to the group. Afterward, adults had the opportunity to discuss the official playground’s design and tried to match the children’s renderings with possible equipment.

“The purpose of the children’s meeting was to get input from the playground experts: the kids,” Minkow said.

Youth involvement and participation are important parts of the KaBOOM! model, and the planning meeting was the first step in learning about the interests of the children and their parents, according to officials at the organization.

Assuming the community can raise its share of the funds, the playground will be assembled Saturday, April 25.