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Volunteers build playground in Norcross

In six hours more than 200 volunteers transformed an empty lot into a new playground thanks to KaBoom! and the CarMax Foundation in Norcross Thursday.


In six hours more than 200 volunteers transformed an empty lot into a new playground thanks to KaBoom! and the CarMax Foundation in Norcross Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

In six hours more than 200 volunteers transformed an empty lot into a new playground thanks to KaBoom! and the CarMax Foundation in Norcross Thursday. (Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan)

With four kids, LaShonna Washington is always looking for a good playground.

Few, though, are within walking distance of her Norcross home.

So when she learned that leaders were looking for volunteers to put together swings and slides for a public playground near Summerour Middle School, where her oldest is a student, Washington was happy to help.

“I thought it ws something that was really amazing,” Washington said of the playground built Thursday along Price Place, between the current middle school and in the shadows of a replacement going up along Beaver Ruin Road.

“It felt good to put your hands in and be a part of putting together the neighborhood playground,” Washington said, adding that she would remember that day whenever she sits on the picnic tables that she built. “I put some sweat into that labor. It’ll be a labor of love.”

Just five hours after community members kicked off the work day Thursday, they cut a ribbon, hand-made by Summerour students, although kids will have to wait a few days to play until the concrete is set on the project.

Much of the funding — and the volunteer force — came from the CarMax Foundation, which has committed to building 30 playgrounds across the country with partner KaBoom! CarMax employees came from across Georgia, along with volunteers from the school, the city and the Gwinnett Community Alliance.

They set up the swings and slide, a teeter-totter and other structures, mixing by hand three tons of concrete. They built benches, picnic tables, shade structures and garbage can holders. They planted bushes and spread 161 cubic yards of mulch. And they danced and laughed and played a little too.

Charlotte Osborn, a retired construction manager, said she was happy to use her skills to help build some of the equipment for the project, not far from her home in the city’s historic downtown.

“It’s just heartwarming,” she said of seeing more than 200 volunteers work together. “This is just great. And when I bring my grandsons … I’ll say, your grammy built those.”

Eva Maria Miranda’s daughter takes classes at Summerour, and in the evenings, she goes to the school to take English lessons.

So the local woman was happy to give back and volunteer to help out.

“She’ll come on the weekend and the week because she can walk here,” a translator said of Miranda, who walks her daughter to school with her 4-year-old son every day and was excited to see improvements like sidewalks coming along with the project.

“It’s very important that children have a place to play,” Miranda said through the translator.

Summerour Middle principal Dorothy Parker-Jarrett accompanied a couple dozen students who were finishing a presidential fitness challenge to the park’s afternoon opening.

“This is so exciting because this side of town doesn’t have the amenities that the other side of town does,” Parker-Jarrett said. “This is great.”

During the ceremony, CarMax vice president Angie Chattin presented the Gwinnett Community Alliance with a $10,000 donation, capping off a day that meant so much to the community.

“It’s amazing to go from dirt to this beautiful playground,” Chattin said.

Video

Playground built in six hours

In six hours more than 200 volunteers transformed an empty lot into a new playground thanks to KaBoom! and the CarMax Foundation in Norcross Thursday.

In six hours more than 200 volunteers transformed an empty lot into a new playground thanks to KaBoom! and the CarMax Foundation in Norcross Thursday.