Kids combat thoughtless act with thoughtful effort
By JULIE HANSON
Union Leader Correspondent | September 03. 2012 7:56PM
Vandals burned a favorite piece of cedar playground equipment on Aug. 24. The structure was a total loss, and school officials had it removed before school started.
Second-grader Cheyenne Barrett decided right away she wanted to help raise money to replace the equipment.
“I thought it would be nice and it would be good to have new equipment so kids can play on it,” Cheyenne said.
Even at 7, Cheyenne has some experience running a lemonade stand. She decided to reopen and donate the proceeds to rebuilding the playground.
Ali Blakeslee, 7, Cheyenne's classmate at the Haigh School, said she was saddened by the fire and wanted to help. Bella Colizzi, 7, put aside her disappointment over the loss of her favorite piece of playground equipment to join the cause.
“I wanted to help my friend Cheyenne out with the lemonade stand, and I wanted to help my school,” she said.
Catherine Harnois, 7, rounded out the team.
“I'm excited to help out my school,” Harnois said.
Cheyenne's father, David, discovered that the group had set up shop in front of his School Street residence when he got home from work. He wasn't surprised because Cheyenne had been talking about doing something for charity.
“It's good to turn it into a lesson for children to learn how to give back to their school,” he said.
They're giving back quite a bit. Sales reached $237 on Monday and were over $257 on Saturday.
Parent Sherri Colizzi said the stand delivers a good message to the children about making something positive out of a negative situation. The money will be put to good use, she said.
“Every little bit helps,” Colizzi said.
Dawn Cianciulli, co-secretary of the PTA, said the organization will also hold a fundraiser to help make up the difference between the replacement cost and insurance reimbursement.
“It's still very upsetting because it was a favorite bit of equipment for the kids,” Cianciulli said.
The original equipment was installed by parents and the PTA in 1995 at cost of about $17,000, according to Superintendent Michael Delahanty. A professional designer worked with the children to design the piece.
Police are reviewing surveillance tapes to see whether the vandals were caught by any of the security cameras at the school.
Donations for the playground are being accepted at Walter Haigh Elementary School, 24 School Street, Salem, NH 03079.