Local News

Volunteeers build neighborhood playground

SEBRING - When on Thursday Edward Jensen worked under a hot sun helping to build a playground for Highland County's chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the experience was less painful than a previous time he volunteered to help the program that provides housing for the needy. "I fell off a roof and broke four ribs," he recalled. But Jensen, 87, said that didn't deter him from wanting to volunteer again. "You just do it because you're civic minded," he said.
Scott Fettinger, another volunteer, who is also a Rotarian like Jensen, said, "You've got to pay it forward." Fittinger and Jensen were among a few volunteers who showed up Thursday morning at Mason's Ridge, a Habitat development, to build the playground. Habitat had received a KaBOOM! grant for $15,000 from the Dr. Pepper and Snapple Group. Sarah Pallone, director of development for Habitat, said the purpose of the grant is to encourage children to play outside through construction of playgrounds. Florida's Natural Growers Foundation, Champion for Children Foundation in Sebring and Home Depot were also involved. The Habitat playground includes swings, a slide, a see-saw and a geodome. On Thursday, no kids watched the progress of the playground, but Pallone estimates 12 children currently live in the development. When it's built out with 60 homes, Habitat estimates 100 children will live in Mason's Ridge. While it's unknown when the full subdvision will be constructed, the plan was for the playground to be completed within two days. Many of the volunteers were local members of Home Depot's community outreach program. J.D. Baxter, a Sebring Home Depot employee, said they regularly help with community projects, but do so without extra pay. Recently, they've helped with improvements to a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Highlands County and with constructing obstacles for use during the regional police K-9 competition in Sebring. jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834