Friends of Fireside gear up to start fundraising

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Fireside School construction is underway – set to open this fall – and now the Friends of Fireside are brainstorming fundraising opportunities to build a playground.

Despite what public conception might be, the Alberta government does not provide funding for public schools playgrounds, leaving the responsibility up to parents and residents.

“The school is kindergarten to Grade 8, you need something for all those ages, ” explained Laura McDonald, Friends of Fireside president.

The fundraising group, consisting of nine committee members, submitted the paperwork in December to start a non-profit organization and members are patiently awaiting the approval so they can move forward.

“The playground in the Fireside (community) already sets the bar high – physical activity is important for the kids, ” McDonald said.

Organizers are estimating the total cost of the playground, including purchasing equipment and installation, to be between $250,000 and $750,000.

Alberta is not the only province that leaves parents in charge of the cost of new or renovated playgrounds – British Columbia and Saskatchewan playgrounds are not provincially funded.

“We would like to see (the playground) done in a year or as soon as possible – but realistically it will probably be more like two years, ” said Milijana Malo, Friends of Fireside treasurer.

Other community groups in Cochrane have held similar fundraising campaigns, including a two and a half year project taken on by parents from Holy Spirit School, who were happy to announce the official opening of the new playground last October.

“We want to make something really cool and interesting, ” Malo said.

Currently, organizers are seeking private/corporate sponsors and are open to brainstorming future fundraising ideas with other parents and residents.

“We need lots of money and lots of parents to get involved, ” Malo said.

Those interested in helping Friends of Fireside are welcome to join the Open House on Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Toyota Dealership, located at 8 River Heights Dr. While there is no admission on the open house, there will be a donation box to begin raising funds for initial start-up costs, including the $100 fee to submit paperwork for non-profit status.

To keep up to date with the group, there is an official Facebook page at “Friends of Fireside School ” or email organizers at friendsoffireside@gmail.com.

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Cochrane Eagle