Two weeks from today, the first shifts of volunteers from across Horry County will converge in Carolina Forest to start assembling Palmetto Adventure Land, a unique playground that will be the first of three Horry County facilities on a 35-acre site. Later this year, construction will start on a recreation center and a library.
PAL was designed by youngsters at Carolina Forest Elementary School and Ocean Bays Elementary School after S.C. Sen. Luke Rankin procured a $300,000 competitive grant for Horry County and Carolina Forest, intended to give the still-growing area "a sense of community." The students assisted in naming and helped with artwork throughout the playground. The equipment includes a boat, a submarine, wave facade, a music area, swings, slides, monkey bars, games, picnic tables and a park. Nearly two dozen businesses, large and small, and service groups such as the Carolina Forest Lions and Rotary clubs have signed on as sponsors.
"We still need a lot more volunteers" to set up the playground over six days, says Lisa Bourcier, Horry County public information officer. The state grant, which would not be possible in the 2010 economy, requires that volunteers assemble the playground. Shifts are set up from 8 a.m. to noon, 12:30 to 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to sunset. Meals will be provided, and several area restaurants are providing food for the work shifts.
The United Way of Horry County has set the 11th annual Day of Caring for Sept. 24, the Friday of the six-day PAL project. So volunteers to work Friday will be covered by the typical turnout for Day of Caring, which comes from businesses, civic organizations and individuals. At this point, Bourcier feels Saturday and Sunday will naturally attract volunteer workers and that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - Sept. 21, 22 and 23 - will be the days toughest to have enough workers. She anticipates a need for about 175 volunteers for every day.
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"We've got people from all over the county," she says. The Carolina Forest Rotary Club is lining up volunteers for the Wednesday and Horry County Schools, including Superintendent Cindy Elsberry, is signed up for the Saturday. The Carolina Forest Civic Association also will provide Saturday volunteers.
Bourcier says particular skills are not required for volunteers, although those who have signed up include several contractors. All three Home Depot stores also are participating. The three shifts every day provide "a lot of options" for anyone who wishes to be a part of building PAL. She says individuals, businesses, homeowner associations or neighborhoods, churches or civic organizations are welcome to call the Horry County Parks and Recreation Department.
Sponsorships have picked up, Bourcier says. They range from mosaic tiles ($30), fence pickets ($50), brick pavers ($70), trees ($350 each) and up to platinum sponsors for $2,500 contributions and higher. Silver sponsors represent contributions of $500 to $1,500 and Gold $1,500 to $2,500.