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Volunteer-based summer program keeps Buchanan kids active

Summer is wrapping up, and so is a popular volunteer-based program in Buchanan that has kept dozens of kids busy and outdoors while they are not in school.

“Everyone wanted to help either with monetary or just supplies that they were cleaning out of their house, or things that they went and purchased just for us,” Ashley Hanson said. “So, it’s really heartwarming to see the community come together for it.”

Hanson is talking about ‘Having Fun at Kathryn Park’ – a summer program she started in June 2015 that brings children together for things like kickball, swinging, games and more.

“It’s just all fun,” Joshua Malstrom, 10, said. “Taking care of the garden, whiffle ball, kickball.”

The program, started by parents, is for parents and their children.

“Just come on down!” Hanson said. “There’s no registration, no sign-up, there’s no charge. It’s just free. Come, hang out! Other children, other adults, having fun.”

Hanson thought up the program last year, and it has grown into a volunteer and donation-based way to keep Buchanan’s youngest out of trouble.

“There’s a lot more lessons to be learned outside then there are racing cars or playing with guns on their iPads or their new Xboxes,” Brittany McBain said.

So McBain started a community garden at the park this year that the kids built from scratch.

The garden includes cantaloupes, tomato plants, green peppers, banana peppers and zucchini plants – all grown from donated materials that the kids helped gather.

At the end of the summer, the kids will take home what they’ve grown, and will donate any leftovers to a local food pantry.

According to kids at the park on Wednesday, the program is working.

“I think it’s cool because Buchanan does a lot for the kids,” Campbell Swem, 11, said.

When asked what he would be doing if he weren’t at the park, Malstrom said, “Probably sitting at home on my iPad.”

Hanson said she hopes to keep growing the program in the years to come.

“It doesn’t just benefit my family, but I feel like it benefits the community,” Hanson said.

The program has been meeting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2-4 p.m. at Kathryn Park throughout the summer.

Hanson said between 25 and 70 children, and their parents, have been showing up each day, and they plan on celebrating the end of summer with a carnival on the final day of the season, Friday, August 12. 

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