Transporting a play set was no walk in the park.
“When we were going down the hill, it was leaning part-way over the trailer bed,” Jacob Baldwin said. “We had to stop and make sure all the straps were down tight.”
They were. Baldwin, Quinn Trapp, and Danny Maddox of USD 408 transported the play set Monday from the Head Start playground west of Marion Elementary School to the front lawn of Leslie Beery.
Beery is in her eighth year teaching in the Head Start program. The play set no longer fit regulatory requirements of the program, she said.
“I’ve spent the last seven summers taking care of it,” she said, “so I didn’t want to see it go to the dump.”
The program, run out of McPherson, serves 34 students annually in two classes. Twelve students per class are at or below the poverty line, two per class are students with special needs, and three per class are a peer group of middle-income students — usually staffers’ kids, Leslie said — who pay tuition.
The play set, which is “at least 15 years old,” isn’t ideal for students with special needs, Beery said.
It now becomes domain of “my kids, the neighbors’ kids, whoever wants to play on it, really,” she said.
Her oldest son, Christopher, 10, was eager to be reunited with the play set.
“I was excited because this is what I played on in preschool,” he said.
Leslie and her husband, Joe, have four kids, Christopher; Harrison, 7; Maddi, 6; and Brooklyn, 5. They also care for foster children through TFI Family Services.
“They say we have room for three more, but we say we have room for one more,” Leslie said. “But a lot of kids come through this house.”
For going through the trouble of transporting the play set, Trapp, Maddox, and Baldwin were each rewarded with a 12-pack of Dr Pepper, presented by Leslie and Christopher, who couldn’t stop smiling since hearing the news that his old stomping grounds were coming home.
“I don’t know,” he said. “There’s no words to describe it.”