Zahra playground volunteers invited to help

Groups organizing a playground to honor Zahra Baker hope volunteers will help build it.

The city of Hickory, the Kiwanis Clubs of Catawba County and numerous community sponsors are building the Zahra Baker All Children's Playground at Kiwanis Park on 805 6th Street SE, just off Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard.

The groups are inviting members of the community to volunteer April 12-14 to help construct the playground.

"We are excited to work with many individuals over the three-day build to develop a very interactive park for children of all ages," said Mack McLeod, director of Hickory's parks and recreation department. "Playworld Systems and KaBOOM! have been great to work with, offering years of experience in building playgrounds and providing interactive options for children. Many people and organizations have been involved in making this happen and to see it come to life is exciting for everyone."

On April 12, volunteers will help unload equipment and stage set-up of the equipment.

On April 13 and 14 — in shifts from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. both days —volunteers will help construct the playground.

Planned amenities will include a 50-foot slide, an interactive area, a sand area, swings and more.

Volunteers will be limited to one shift because organizers expect many people to attend. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to participate in the construction site.

"We are truly excited that the playground will be built with volunteers, and I feel confident that it will be an experience of a lifetime," said Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright.

"What a great way to honor a little girl that touched so many hearts, not only in our community but across the globe."

Zahra was murdered in 2010. Elisa Baker was sentenced in September 2011 for Zahra's murder.

More than $200,000 has been donated for the playground in her name.

"The tremendous support for the Playground for Zahra has been heartwarming and the Kiwanis Clubs of Catawba County are honored to be a part of such a worthwhile project that will enhance the lives of all children for many, many decades," said Steve Aaron, a Western Catawba County Kiwanis Club member and chairman of the playground organizing committee.

To volunteer, contact Hickory Parks and Recreation at 828-261-2248.