Dozens of New Jersey firefighters volunteered their services Wednesday morning and built a new playground for a school in need in Ansonia.
There will be 26 playgrounds built across the tri-state area in honor of the Sandy Hook victims and on Wednesday, the first project was started in Connecticut.
The New Jersey state firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association is heading up the Sandy Ground Project.
The firefighters originally started planning playgrounds to help shoreline communities in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut rebuild after Superstorm Sandy.
Following the tragic events of Dec. 14 where 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the project took on a new meaning.
Using the motto "where angels play," they're building 26 playgrounds, one for each Sandy Hook victim.
"After this, we'll be in Westport for Dylan Hockley's build, we're heading to Stratford for Victoria Soto's build, New London will be Emily Parker," said Bill Lavin of The Sandy Ground Project. "Not all of the sites are set, but we'll be in Mystic Seaport for Grace McDonald."
The first playground in Connecticut is at Ansonia's Prednegast School was being built in memory of Catherine Hubbard, who was one of the first graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"The road for us is hard because we don't have our 6-year-old, but to know there is a playground being built and kids are going to be running, playing and laughing. It's the world," said Jennifer Hubbard. "It's how we wanted Catherine to be remembered."
The school has been trying to replace its old wooden playground for years, but didn't have the funds.
"It makes me feel good, restores my faith in humanity to know there are good people despite the tragic things that might happen," said Joe Apicella from Prednergast School.
While the playgrounds are basically the same, each one will show off the child's personality. The one at Ansonia's Prednegast School will be colored pink and purple and feature a tire swing.
For the Hubbards, that tire swing has special meeting. Catherine's mom said when they moved into a new home last summer, they didn't take their swing set with them.
"Catherine was mad that she didn't have a swing set. The neighbors had put up a tire swing and she'd spend hours there," said Jennifer Hubbard. "She logged hours on it playing with the neighbors. We talked about getting her a swing set and in a way, this is her swing set."
And her playground that will soon be shared by many.
"I always liked to do construction projects, so it's pretty exciting for me," said Catherine's 8-year-old brother Freddy Hubbard. "I think it's going to be great."
The hope is to have this playground completed in about a week. The entire project with all 26 playgrounds is going to cost about $3 million and they can use some funds.
To find out about the Sandy Ground Project, click the following link.
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