Come and Play
By Susan Shinn
CHINA GROVE ó How lucky you are if you’re a child of Concordia Lutheran Church.
The children of the congregation have a brand-new playground on which to play.
The playground will be dedicated after the 11 a.m. service Sunday. The day includes a covered-dish dinner.
The children tried it out recently on a sunny, almost-spring afternoon.
Martha Baker and husband Joe stood and watched with pride. Baker was president of the women of the church back in 2004, when they decided to take on fundraising projects to pay for the playground ó a $49,000 project.
Baker and Jerry Beaver, whose grandchildren attend Concordia, co-chaired the project, visiting playgrounds at churches, daycares, schools and the YMCA in Mooresville.
“Jerry and I traveled around and had a big time,” Baker says.
The women had a yard sale and a casserole sale, a quilt raffle, a spaghetti supper, and a car wash and hot dog and hamburger sale that turned out to be just a food sale because of the drought.
“It was unbelievable what we took in that Saturday,” remembers Jason Ritchie. He and his wife, Jenni, are parents to Jacob, 31/2, and James, who just turned 1.
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans provided matching funds for several events.
And the women sold a cookbook, “Be Our Guest,” with more than 700 recipes included. They also received a grant from the Cannon Foundation.
The playground has a prominent spot in front of the church’s family life center.
“I think it has proven to be a very good evangelism move, because people can certainly see we’re interested in our children,” Baker says.
“It’s a visual sign that says kids are welcome, and that there’s a place for them,” says the Rev. Ken Reed.
The playground was installed by Playworld in Charlotte. It features slides and swings, animals and parallel bars. It’s handicapped accessible. It also has three bright-red “mama benches,” as Baker calls them.
Perhaps its coolest feature is the shredded tires from Rubber One in Salisbury that serve as ground cover.
Baker points out that it’s long-lasting, will be disease free and because it’s nice and bouncy, will serve as a soft landing for tots.
“It doesn’t track or stick to your feet,” she says.
John Welch of Reliable Fence installed the 5-foot aluminum fence, which is painted black.
“It’s think it’s just beautiful,” Baker says of the playground.
Of course, the children just think it’s a terrific new place to play.
Kellin Ours, 5, bounds around in a Panthers sweat shirt and shorts.
Even at 12, big sister Mary Margaret Yates, seems to enjoy swinging for awhile.
Jack Reed, 31/2, gets a push on the swing by big brother Kurtis, 10. Brother Alex, 12, pitches in, too.
Jack and his mom Leslie, who live right across the street, come at least once in the afternoon, according to Reed, Jack’s dad.
“Then he takes a serious power nap,” Reed says.
“You ought to see the kids when church is over,” says Barbara Beaver, Jerry’s wife. The couple are grandparents to Jacob and James. “They stay out here ’til the parents drag them away.”
Baker says that there is enough money left over to maintain the playground and put in some landscaping. Of course, the kids aren’t worried about that. They just want to see how many times they can go down the slide before it’s time to go.
nnnContact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.