|More room to play
Above, children express their joy as the new playground is dedicated at the McFarlin church in Norman.
Nurtured by gifts of funding and volunteer work, a new playground has blossomed and was blessed recently at McFarlin UMC in Norman.
The original space accommodated children ages 1 through 5. Renovations and expansion created a playground that now accommodates babies through 12-year-olds. Equipment for older children has been installed. A special area is designed for the littlest children.
United Methodist Men "pursued this project with great talent and enthusiasm," said Kristy Varva, director of Early Childhood. "They set a strong example for young boys, young men, and fathers in our church and community to share their talents, time, and love with others."
Bob Warner was program manager for Project Playground. Volunteering for the building tasks, UMMen gave about 3,000 hours to the project. Much of their work occurred amid summer’s record heat.
Money gifts totaled more than $180,000. Fundraising began in Fall 2010 and included a silent auction, putt-putt golf tournament sponsored by UMMen, art show, and picket-fence campaign.
"It has been a blessing to see the magnitude of giving from our donors and volunteers, who have so greatly invested in our children and young people," said Pastor Linda Harker, who led the blessing service on Oct. 30. "It’s wonderful when people understand the importance of investing in children from an early age and the impact it will have on our future."
Varva affirmed, "This is so true! Outdoor play is essential to their learning and development. Children will benefit physically, mentally, and spiritually from this for years to come."
She continued, "We give thanks to God for the amazing way He has made provisions. I believe it only happened by God working through us all."