NORTH ANDOVER — When Cindy Custer and other parents of Sargent School children noticed the deterioration of the school’s playground, they made up their minds they were going to fix it.
The aging wooden structures were giving kids splinters among other problems. The members of the Sargent PTO knew the school budget would not cover a new playground — so over the last few years, they raised $28,000 on their own, she said.
Recently, Custer and other volunteers assembled the new playground, whose structures are made of metal and plastic, and raked 90 yards of special mulch that will cushion falls from the slides or swings. More than 60 volunteers, including parents, teachers and Principal Edward Foster, participated in the effort.
“We have a vested interest,” Custer, whose son and daughter both attended Sargent, said.
The youngest volunteer was probably Sean Tattan, 4, who was hard at work shoveling mulch with his father, John Tattan. Sean will be attending kindergarten at Sargent next year.
“He’s going to get full use out of the playground,” the elder Tattan said. Sean’s sisters already attend the school. Madeline, 9, is a fourth-grader while Jacqueline, 7, is in second grade.
“I have three kids that used the previous playground,” John Tattan said when asked why he was shoveling mulch on such a nice day rather than relaxing or doing something fun, like play golf or go for a bike ride. “We love this school.”
While the majority of the volunteers were adults, a few teenagers also showed up. Among those raking mulch were Nick Ceraso, a North Andover High junior, and Carolyn Roche, an NAHS sophomore.
They are members of the Youth Council at the Joseph N. Hermann Youth Center. Their responsibilities include performing community service. Doing something to help children seemed like a logical action, they said.
So how did the Sargent School PTO raise $28,000?
During the last few years, they have organized several fundraising events, including Fun Runs, in which students seek pledges and run various distances, Halloween parties, winter carnivals and book fairs, according to Karen Davis, a PTO member.
“The PTO has worked hard and smart,” Davis said.