Kids plan swap meet to raise money for children’s park shades

October 15, 2005

As the weather gets colder, the Sholar family is thinking about the sun.

But not a trip to Hawaii. They’re looking much closer to home: the Hood River Children’s Park.

The Sholars want to give it some shade.

Maggie Sholar, 11, and her brother, Graham, 9, and their parents, Lynn Lewis and Brent Sholar, are organizing a Kids Swap Meet on Oct. 22 to raise money for a set of triangular awnings that will cover portions of the play structure to keep the popular facility cooler in the summer.

The Sholars’ main motivation is this: “A lot of little kids can’t use the playground when it gets hot,” Maggie said. Graham said the metal slides are in particular need of shelter.

At the swap meet, any kid who wants to make some cash selling good quality used toys to other kids can set up a space at the Children’s Park, with proceeds going toward the $1,000 or so needed to buy the shades. Adults are welcome to come and peruse the wares, too.

The family, taking its turn in guiding the Friends of the Children’s Park committee, has sold t-shirts and raised $200 toward the shade project. The swap meet is an event they hope will generate more money toward getting the shades installed by next summer.

Leadership of the Friends committee has revolved among several families who have taken responsibility for working with the city, which owns the 13-year-old park. The Sholar kids have spent plenty of time playing in the park as they’ve grown, and Lewis said they have enjoyed doing their part to foster improvements. Last year, the committee varnished the wooden structure and replaced moving parts on the tic-tac-toe game, chimes and other features.

Now sights are set on shade to make the park more useable in summer.

The shades are known as “membranes” that come in various colors and are mounted on poles in strategic places to block the sun. Lewis said the family saw them in use in parks in Australia, and they are common in many parts of the United States but little-used in Oregon.

“Luckily, the city is open to making the improvement,” Lewis said. The children met with city engineer Dave Bick and city facilities manager Dave Smock and got their approval to raise the money.

“It’s a very nice looking installation, so it should be a good improvement,” said Bick, adding that the shades and poles will be engineered to withstand the famed Hood River winds.

“They were glad we came to see them,” said Maggie, who presents an organized notebook with diagrams, photos, flyers and other materials explaining the project. Bick said he was impressed with the Sholar children.

“They’re very bright, perceptive, well-spoken young people,” Bick said.

“They were pleased to see we had a plan,” said Lewis, who home schools Maggie and Graham. “Their only condition was that we accommodate for aesthetic values.”

The family is researching the best deal on shades from several firms, and is seeking input on what color shades to buy; they did one survey that revealed neighbors’ preference that the shades be green and brown, rather than bright colors.

Whatever the shades and poles look like, city crews will do most of the installation, but it is up to the community to raise the money.

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