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SHIRLEY–The Shirley Play Board and PTA share a common bond and purpose–to promote the health and well-being of Shirley’s children, and provide them with opportunities to learn and have fun in a safe environment. On Sunday, Dec.6, the two non-profit organizations teamed up to do just that at their five-hour “Drop ‘n Shop” babysitting event at the Shirley Middle School.

From 1 to 5 p.m., adult and adolescent volunteer babysitters provided a wealth of activities for children whose parents donated $3 per hour for childcare while they went shopping. Many other parents stayed with their children to join in the fun. All proceeds from the event will go toward a fund for the purchase of new playground equipment for the Shirley School District.

Activities provided during the afternoon included Wii, PlayStation, and Xbox gaming stations staffed and supplied by Best Buy; decorative ornament and jewelry making; face painting; fun in the gym with Shirley’s “Playful Dads;” movie-watching in the auditorium; free photos with Santa provided by Robin Terhune Photography; and, a wealth of raffle opportunities.

Raffle winners were fourth-grader Nikki Gerace, who won a new iPod Nano; Kindergarten Teacher Kim Rock, who won over $200 worth of gift certificates for TGI Friday’s, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Cold Stone Creamery, Bull Run and Sorrentos; and, second-grader William Hamilton, who won a basket of Paperwhite daffodil bulbs to plant indoors.

The Shirley PTA still has eight raffle baskets for which the drawings will be held on Dec. 18. Tickets are $5 for eight, or $10 for 20. Tickets may be purchased from Administrative Assistant Kathy Banks at the Lura White Elementary School. The themed baskets are for: coffee lovers, with coffee and Godiva chocolates; a Hess race car; four tickets to see the Worcester Sharks; lottery scratch tickets; child-friendly baking, with various cake and cookie mixes; family movie night, which includes snacks and DVDs; gift cards for Barnes & Noble, Panera, Target, Macy’s and Burger King; and, a family dinner, with easy-to-make favorites like macaroni and cheese. Families of children at Lura A. White donated the baskets to support the cause of safe, accessible play spaces in Shirley.

Tickets for the raffle baskets may also be purchased at the PTA’s Family Night at Piccolino’s restaurant in Shirley on Wednesday, Dec. 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. The restaurant will donate a portion of their sales during that time to the organization, which funds educational programs including the camera club, Destination Imagination, problem solving, the 6th-grade trip to the Christa McAuliffe Center at Framingham State College, the annual Scholastic Book Fair, and the first-grade owl pellet dissection. The PTA also funds live presentations by groups such as Wingmasters: Birds of Prey. The last Family Night at Piccolino’s raised nearly $300.

The Shirley PTA also hosts the “Giving Tree” program that supplies teachers with classroom materials, and is a partner with other local organizations for Operation Cookie Drop, donating money to help offset the cost for shipping care packages to U.S. troops overseas.

“The Shirley PTA and Play Board have overlapping missions,” says PTA President Ann Kahn, who, with the assistance of Shirley PTA member Mary Cooper sold raffle tickets at the Drop ‘n Shop throughout the day. “It just seemed natural for our two organizations to combine our efforts on behalf of the playground.”

“The Shirley Play Board is going to continue to hold community-building events like this one,” adds Play Board Chair Susan Heinz. “Everyone had a blast…We had some great sponsors, and we especially want to thank all of the volunteers who contributed their time and energy for the kids.” The event hosted about 50 children, with the help of at least 20 volunteers.

The Shirley PTA meets the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Shirley Middle School, and all are welcome to attend. Membership dues, which support educational programs for students, are only $10 per year. For more information, contact PTA President Ann Kahn at 978-425-4030, or kahn30@comcast.net.

For more information on the Shirley Play Board, which hosts Shirley’s Annual Day of Play and other playful events in town, visit http://www.playfulshirleyma.org, or contact Play Board Chair Sue Heinz at 978-425-9447, or skheinz@msn.com.