Workers hope to finish park on schedule

Published 6:00 am Friday, April 5, 2002

A warm sunny afternoon helped bring out enough volunteersThursday to make a huge dent in the effort to build Kids Kingdomplayground in five days.

“It started out slow, but soon we had half of Brookhaven outhere,” said Kids Kingdom co-chair Don Doty. “We had people 10 to 80years old working together.”

Their work resulted in the completion of the decking on numerouslevels of platforms Thursday. Volunteers also completed the rocketshaped equipment and got started on the maze and castle, saidDoty.

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Underneath a tent on one end of the 10-acre park, men and womenof all ages hammered, drilled and sanded on the platforms. Then theplatforms and other needed materials were put in place by dozens ofother volunteers.

“We’ve been measuring lumber, marking lumber and toting lumberall day. It’s like an assembly line,” said Brenda Henderson ofBrookhaven. “It’s amazing to see so many people work together.”

Volunteers ranged from grandparents and parents to peoplewithout children. Some volunteers were not even from the Brookhavenarea.

“We live in Kentwood, but when our kids come visit their grandmain Brookhaven they will come to the park and play,” said RoseWalker, who worked all day with her husband, Randy.

Wendy Caston of Liberty wanted to be a part of Kids Kingdombecause she drives by the park every day on her way to and fromwork in the Industrial Park area. One of her co-workers, SheilaMcElwee of McComb, also felt a need to help out.

“I wanted to come out and do something positive for thecommunity,” said McElwee.

Many businesses allowed their employees time off from work tojoin the effort. A local construction company even took the weekoff to volunteer.

“We brought our dozer out and did all the dozer work, andseveral of us came out to work all week,” said Wayne Carter, ownerof the company. “I challenge all the businesses in town to help outin some way.”

Volunteers have found that the work has been rewarding forthemselves as well. Many smiled and laughed as they worked whileothers talked about how they were glad to help bring the playgroundto Brookhaven.

“We’re called Homeseeker’s Paradise, and we’re trying to live upto our name,” said volunteer Kevin Droak, who worked all dayThursday.

Several people in the area made the day a family outing andcreated some lasting memories of working on the communityproject.

Parents who had children under 10 years old, the minimum age tobe on-site, took advantage of the Kids Kingdom day care centerlocated in the first building across from Brookhaven Fire Stationon Industrial Park Road.

The day care was set up by the Beta Sigma Phi Alpha Alphasorority for potty trained children.

Volunteers play games and make crafts with the children at theday care just 100 yards from Kids Kingdom while the parents areworking on the playground.

“We are here all day long. If the parent is going to have themhere through lunch, we just ask that they bring a sack lunch forthe child,” said Maria Peters, a member of the sorority.

Saturday is expected to bring the largest crowd of volunteers tothe site, so day care volunteers have a few special plans for thechildren.

“We’re going to have a jumping pit and have some firetrucks andambulances come out for the kids,” said Peters.

Kids Kingdom organizers say the effort has been well-organizedand smooth flowing all week.

“We put people to work within five minutes of getting here.There’s no standing around,” said co-chair Sally Doty.

Organizers encouraged more volunteers to come out and be a partof the biggest community-involved construction project inBrookhaven history.

“You’re missing out on something great if you don’t volunteer.It’s really a memorable experience,” said Don Doty.

Construction captain Allen Brown agreed, saying he enjoyedwatching the project advance each day.

“It’s really neat to see it take shape. It’s going to bebeautiful when it’s finished,” he said.

Another volunteer, Brian Moore, added that it was somethingeveryone should experience.

“It’s like you work on one thing and don’t realize everythingelse going on around you. Then you see it as a whole and it’s hardto believe how much has been done,” said Moore.