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Joyce Endee

Three Lin-wood ladies raise funds to bring back Woodstock playground

October 03, 2012
N. WOODSTOCK — A trio of dedicated young ladies have been on a mission. Allyson Rokita, Dakema Welch, and Sara Ford worked together to rebuild a playground obliterated during Tropical Storm Irene. The damaged site is behind the town fire station.

Two bake sales were the central component of the trio's fundraising. The events raised a total of $1,744.84. The Select Board, with Rokita, Welch, and Ford in attendance, happily accepted the donation on September 25.

The three masterminds are all Lin-Wood students. Ford is in eighth grade, while Welch and Rokita are ninth graders.

Each member of the trio was really depressed when they found out that the storm destroyed their old playground. Ford remembered seeing "a ton of things floating down the river."

She noted that Rokita "got the ball rolling" after realizing what had been lost. Known as Ally, Rokita talked about how hard it was to see the destruction. "I saw the aftermath . . . That's where my childhood was spent," she lamented.

The unfortunate loss did not destroy her spirit. Rather, she was motivated to action.

Rokita said an organized group was necessary to bring about the playground's rebirth. That's where Welch and Ford came in. The trio spent a lot of time visualizing a way to bring the playground back.

The trio's friendship truly blossomed as they worked together on their plans. They knew each other before the storm, but working to get the bake sales going really brought them together.

A great deal of time on the phone and Facebook launched the idea of a bake sale. Rokita said she used some cafeteria napkins to write down much of her initial thinking. They also used a binder to write down ideas.

The first bake sale took place in October 2011. This raised $600. A second sale occurred on August 18. That sale nearly doubled their take from the event last year. "It feels good to give back to the community that gives so much to us," Welch said with a big smile.

Even though the bake sales were their idea, the ladies quickly thanked many others. Welch noted the generosity of Selectman Jim Fadden. The second bake sale took place outside of his general store. "He was very generous to us," Ford said.

Businesses throughout Lincoln and Woodstock helped with donations, the ladies said.

Welch noted that some people bought $5 in cookies at the sale, but gave a total of $20 to the cause. There was even a tour bus filled with non-residents who contributed with bake sale purchases.

Sara's mom Deb noted, "It was amazing to see how many people stepped up."

Judy Welch, Dakema's mom, is the Woodstock town clerk. She was pleased with the can-do approach that the devoted young ladies demonstrated. "They really took the initiative," she said.

Fadden was very pleased with the trio's great work. "We're so proud of them," he said. Fadden noted that the helpful community was a key part of the success, but the effort was possible thanks to Rokita, Welch, and Ford.

Fellow students gave funds and time, too. Dakema said that some friends donated paychecks, while others held up signs to point people toward the bake sales.

The public works department has done some work at the site, which can be used. Plans are underway for some additional equipment and tables, according to Judy Welch.

Dakema does not view the bake sales as the end. "We want to keep helping the community," she said, "because it's such an awesome feeling."

The generous donations prove that there are many kind people in the region. The great success proved something more: Irene was no match for Ally, Dakema, and Sara.

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