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by Jessica Coolsby, staff writer

The weekend of Friday the 13th through the 16th saw 250 marine volunteers from Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i help build the new ‘Aikahi Community Playground.
“ It just feels like the community is coming together for us,” said Jenny Helman, an ‘Aikahi parent who serves on the playground committee.
Including the marines, about 400 people participated in the creation of the new park, including 21 Hawai‘i Job Corps students, skilled members of the mason and carpenter’s union, JROTC members from Kalaheo High School, and neighbors, parents, and students from ‘Aikahi Elementary. The project included a volcano slide, turtle tunnel, monkey bar, moving surfboard, and a dozen more features that were erected over the weekend.
Construction took place each day in two shifts from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 1 to 7 p.m. and included both Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. According to MCBH officials, the $150,000 project was funded solely through community efforts to upgrade out-of-code equipment. In an effort to go green, the project consisted of 90 percent recycled material.
Children were allowed to help design and build the project alongside their parents and other community members, giving them a sense of ownership of the playground, said Marc Leathers, who owns a local business.
While much was done, more help is needed, according to Kimi Eggard, ‘Aikahi Elementary PTSA president and project coordinator: including tools, volunteers, and additional funding. The project is short $50,000, and the committee hopes to raise money through its Web site and a fundraiser at Ko‘olau Golf Club. “We Love ‘Aikahi, Night Out,” will be held March 13 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. The Ko‘olau Golf Club event will include a live auction. Tickets are $40 for food, drinks, and entertainment. Check www.aikahiplayground.org for ticket availability.
Those who’d like to help can also drop off a donation at Bank of Hawai‘i’s ‘Aikahi Branch, payable to Friends of ‘Aikahi Playground, or visit www.aikahiplayground.org.


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