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Ashby Elementary parents get creative to raise playground funds

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ASHBY — What do childhood play and affordable manicures have in common?

Parents of Ashby Elementary School students are raising money to replace the playground equipment near the center of town with up-to-date structures. So they’re planning an unusual fundraiser.

Fringe Salon, of 54 Fitchburg State Road, has agreed to charge $10 per service for either a wet hair cut, mini pedicure, mini manicure, mini massage or mini facial on June 6, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fifth-grade Girl Scouts will assist in a bake sale in front of the salon during the event, with all proceeds going toward purchasing playground equipment.

The new facility promises to be a kid-friendly destination with more than just standard slides and swings.

The group of parents has already bought a so-called “wave.”

“It’s a new form of a see-saw,” said Joanne Novelli, one of the parent fundraisers. “We have it in storage.”

The group is planning to install the new equipment where the present playground is. The older gear has fallen on hard times.

“Nineteen years ago, parents got together, funded and built the old wooden playground,” Novelli said. She said it was state-of-the-art for the times, but was built of treated lumber — a material no longer used for play structures.

Since then, some of the equipment has been removed as pieces broke down. And it’s difficult to reinstall anything because Ashby is built on slate, Novelli said.

Money has been raised for more than a year. Because of the challenges presented by the economy and the small size of the school, the group has tried to be creative in its efforts to raise money.

“Some people just don’t have money to give you,” Novelli said. “Even the businesses are going out of business and they can’t donate what they used to.”

The committee has raised about $9,000 in a little over a year, Novelli said. Eventually, members plan to purchase about $40,000 in equipment.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. contributed $1,000 and Unitil Corp. gave $500. Some individuals have donated money. A Yankee Candle sale raised $2,000. The Christmas craft fair was a big success.

There are other ways to be involved besides donating money, parents said. When it comes time to do the work, plenty of labor will be needed.

“It will be a community build,” Novelli said. “We need someone to take out the old playground. We’re looking at hopefully next year.”

After the site is properly prepared, new equipment can be installed.

Other site work will be done by volunteers. There will be six inches of padding and six inches of mulch under the equipment, Novelli said.

The group is purchasing equipment from Miracle, the same company that supplied equipment for the playground outside Spaulding Elementary School in Townsend.

Novelli said most of the gear would be installed around a central base. Items will be made of plastic and other new materials.

A representative from Miracle is helping the group plan on how to fit everything on the existing footprint.

During the school day, the playground will be available for elementary school students to use. The newer version will be open to the community when school is not in session.

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