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Lowe's Heroes reach out to the community in Chambersburg

July 13, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Play is an essential part of a child's life, and an important part of the counseling provided to children at the Frances Leiter Center.

On Thursday, a group of volunteers from the Lowe's Heroes program was helping make the backyard of the center a little more playful with a new play set and flower beds. The group of more than 20 volunteers from the Chambersburg store is also moving an old flower bed to make room for a handicapped ramp, putting together a new storage shed, powerwashing the building and doing some painting, said Leslie Harne, a clinical coordinator and full-time therapist.

"It's like Christmas in July for us and the kids," Harne said.

The work is expected to be completed today, said Bob Dile, a zone manager at the store.

"We just go out and talk to organizations and find out what is most worthwhile," Dile said of the Lowe's Heroes annual project. Last year, it was building a concession stand at the Scotland School for Veterans' Children, he said.

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"Some of the materials were donated by our vendors," Dile said of the play set and shed. The store provided the flowers and landscaping materials, he said.

The center at 539 Lincoln Way East looks like other homes along the street, except for the sign out front. The center works with children from the ages of 2 to 18, and providing a comfortable home-like atmosphere is important, she said.

The center counsels children dealing with issues such as parents divorcing; physical or sexual abuse; depression, anxiety or low-self esteem; the loss of a loved one; and behavioral problems, Harne said.

"This agency is different from others in that we serve children only," Harne said. Last year, 136 children were counseled at the center, which is associated with the Children's Aid Society.

Play-centered therapy is one way to reach these children, Harne said.

"It allows them to feel comfortable, to be able to express whatever issues they have through the toys," Harne said. "It helps them work through those feelings."

A lawn and garden cashier, Stacy Wagner was trying her hand at putting the roof on the storage shed.

"It's fun. I've learned a lot," Wagner said. "Lowe's is a great company to work for and I like that they do things for the community," she said.

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