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Hammering with heart at Habitat For Humanity’s “Playhouse Project Blitz”

2-day project promises 24 playhouses for northwest Ohio children
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 6:48 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The roar of the crowd at Fifth Third Field has been silenced this season, though the concourse is bustling with activity. The crack of the bat is being replaced with the sound of hammers and nails in downtown Toledo this week, with volunteers building small houses for a big cause.

“Today kicks off our two-day Playhouse Project Blitz," says Michael McIntyre, executive director of Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity. “We do this once a year, and this is our third year.”

The organization is partnering with 24 companies to build 24 playhouses for well-deserving kids in northwest Ohio -- and the children even get some input on the design process.

“[Volunteers] will design, build and decorate the houses... and the most special part comes at the end of the day, when the children come out from left field and see their houses,” explains McIntyre. “They’ve turned in an application that says ‘I like the Walleye or the Mud Hens’, or ‘I like princesses’, so the house will be decorated in their theme and probably have their name on it. It’s really customized to them.”

The build team from The Ability Center of Greater Toledo is seeing to one such customization: a firetruck-themed unit with extra accessibility. Four such accessible houses will be built, out of the planned 24 this week. Event coordinator Nancy Jomantas says it “means a great deal to us to be able to give one of our children, a 6-year-old, the opportunity to be just like every other kid, to enjoy this playhouse with extra accessibility with the ramp.”

Some sponsors helped out with logistics as well as building: “Yesterday, we came out with some of our laborers and supervisors,” says Maumee Valley Movers' Tony Fox, “and used our work trucks to get all the supplies here and get all the workstations stocked up with those supplies.”

The playhouses built here today and tomorrow are part of Habitat’s overall vision. “These little houses we’re building help fund the bigger houses -- this is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” McIntyre says. “By doing this, we’ll be able to afford building a brand new house, and selling it to someone in our community who needs affordable housing.”

When the kids see the brightly-colored finished products at day’s end, McIntyre says the look on their face says it all. “Whenever you see a kid and can put a big smile on their face when something good’s happening in their life, that’s really awesome. It’s really a blessing for the kids' lives, and it’s wonderful that the community is supporting this.”

To get in on next year’s build or to volunteer at any time of the year, visit Maumee Valley Habitat For Humanity’s website.

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