Feeling that Holiday spirit of giving? Not sure who to help? Well look no further. We're highlighting 10 worthy, national charities and encouraging everyone to give what they can.
Welcome to the fourth installment in our 10-part Charity Blog Series. When I was growing up in the suburbs outside of Pittsburgh, my brothers and I lived in a neighborhood within walking distance of our elementary school. In fact, our house was just up the hill (a great sledding hill) from the school. One of the greatest moments of my life in that neighborhood was when our community came together to build--in just one day--a massive, sparkling playground just behind the school. I remember my job that day was to soap up all the nails so they could be pounded through the lumber easily.
I spent half my waking hours on that playground, inventing and playing all sorts of hide-and-seek games, projecting myself off of the swing set at unsafe speeds and heights and generally having a blast.
KaBOOM!, a national charity based out of Washington, D.C., is trying to give that same experience to kids all over the country. Their tag-line, "It Starts With a Playground," sums up what they're all about: making sure a playground is within walking distance of every kid in the country. Although the organization is itself credited with building hundreds of playgrounds across the country each year, KaBOOM! wisely concluded that the best way to achieve their stated goal would be to empower communities to build playgrounds themselves. To wit, KaBOOM's website has become a treasure trove of knowledge and resources for those communities and neighborhoods big on initiative but short on know-how. Everything from fundraising ideas to surface preparation to actual playground plans can be found at KaBOOM.org. Of course there's also a place to donate as well. "The notion of building a playground on your own is pretty daunting," says Mike Vietti, Communications Manager for KaBOOM! "We've had hundreds and hundreds of groups use our DIY tools to build playgrounds at elementary schools and parks all over the country."
And you don't need to build an entire playground from scratch to make use of KaBOOM's knowledge center. They include plenty of plans and step-by-steps for "side projects"--call them "playground improvement projects"--like benches, shading areas, storage for backpacks and such and more.
I've seen those ad campaigns on the networks promoting national programs to get kids off the couch and outdoors, and I think they're great. It's what this country needs. KaBOOM! is just giving those kids a place to go once they do get off the couch. And that makes them a worthy charity, indeed.
Have you ever helped build a playground in your neighborhood?