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Lowe's employees expand playground at Chambersburg autism program

July 18, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Greg Bricker, installed sales manager for Lowe's, squeezed into the tunnel of a children's play set Thursday to bolt some of the final pieces in place, but this installation was not part of his regular duties.

On this day, Bricker was a Lowe's Hero, along with about 30 other employees of the Chambersburg home improvement center who donated their time to expand the playground of the NHS Autism Program at Norland Shopping Center.

Beginning Wednesday, the Lowe's Heroes put together the play set and soccer nets, extended the fence around the play area, assembled picnic tables, put together minitrampolines in the gym and put up a pair of basketball hoops, sales manager Susan Morris said.

"Awesome support," said Lauren Zima, the clinical coordinator for the autism program, which opened in 2007. "It's just really nice to see the community get involved."

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The program runs a school, which will expand to two classes this fall, along with its Stepping Stones socialization program and the Summer Therapeutic Activities Program (STAP), Zima said.

STAP serves about 65 children between the ages of 12 and 18, Stepping Stones is a year-round program with about 40 children between the ages of 3 and 14 and the school can have up to 24 students in all grades with the addition of the second classroom, Zima said.

"The younger kids are really excited about the play set" while the older ones are looking forward to shooting baskets on the court, she said.

Four-year-old Christian Diaz-Pitsnogle appeared anxious to use the play set. Christian said he particularly liked the green color.

The Lowe's Heroes also donated two shopping carts filled with books for the school's library, Morris said.

"We have had a lot of vendor support this year" with companies donating or contributing to the new playground facilities, Morris said. Master Halco donated the fencing; the picnic tables were provided by Georgia Vitrified Clay Corp.; Lifetime Products contributed toward the hoops; Leisure Time Products helped with the play set; and Colony House Furniture provided a beanbag chair, she said.

Lowe's Heroes is a national program, but the teams from the stores identify the project they will take on, Morris said.

Last year, it was a play area for the Frances Leiter Center, a counseling program for children. The year before, volunteers built a concession stand at the Scotland (Pa.) School for Veterans Children, she said.

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