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School gets financial shade

Fundraising and grant will go toward building structure on Stevenson play area to block UV rays.

October 23, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com

The sun may not be shining over Burbank, but that doesn't mean Stevenson Elementary School students need any less shade.

Friday marked the end of the school fundraiser for "Made in the Shade," a three-year effort by the parent booster group Families for Stevenson to raise money to build shade structures for the playground. But time is running out to start the project, and $2,000 to $5,000 still needs to be raised.

The permanent structures will cover the main play area at the school.

With sponsorship by a Burbank dermatologist, Jeffrey Ashley, the group was eligible to receive a grant from the American Academy of Dermatology Shade Structure Program.

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Stevenson Elementary was one of 37 schools selected out of an applicant pool of 500 to receive the $8,000 grant, officials said.

The entire project is expected to cost between $20,000 and $25,000 depending on additional state and district requirements.

Although the grant was awarded in July, Made in the Shade is still struggling to pull together the last of the funds to build the proposed structures.

"We have a sense of urgency because we have the money and an approved estimate, but we have to begin the project within a year," said Melissa Boag, a member of Families for Stevenson and mother of a third-grader at the school.

The grant does not allow the recipients to begin construction before all the money is in place for the project.

"We're really trying to ramp it up to get those last dollars," Boag said.

The most recent fundraiser encouraged children to ask for $5 for a foot of shade.

The group has raised money in the past through selling gift cards and rewards programs with local grocery and retail stores. Boag and others in the parent group plan to appeal to local businesses and corporations for the final amount.

The grant also requires a sun safety education program in the school curriculum, which kicked off Wednesday.

"We encourage our kids to wear hats and use sunscreen," said Stevenson Elementary School Principal Debbie Ginnetti. "This is about working with parents and educating both them and their children."

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