La Jolla Country Day students build playhouses for Habitat for Humanity

La Jolla Country Day School fifth-graders paint a partially constructed ocean-themed playhouse.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

A group of La Jolla Country Day School fifth-graders assembled and painted playhouses this week in a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to donate their creations to Head Start programs, Habitat homeowners or low-income military families throughout the San Diego area.

During the building process May 18-19, students assembled the sides, doors, windows and trim, built the roofs and painted and decorated the completed structures.

Linnea Lagerstrom, corporate partnerships manager for Habitat for Humanity — which helps low-income families build and buy their own homes — said the project is “a way for us to engage with younger folks that can’t be on our build sites” for full-size homes.

She said the fifth-graders raised money for the playhouse materials as well as to help build full-size houses. San Diego Habitat for Humanity first facilitated the program for this age group in 2017. Students have raised money by hosting lemonade stands, car washes and yard sales and reaching out to area parents.

The playhouse project had been an annual event until last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to find an alternative, and they built birdhouses, said Jennifer Fogarty, La Jolla Country Day’s communications content manager.

La Jolla Country Day School fifth-graders work on a garden-themed playhouse.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“Once these playhouses are finished, they will be donated to local Head Start locations … which focuses on providing early childhood education, especially in areas that have been traditionally disenfranchised or without as many resources,” Lagerstrom said. “It’s great for families who want their kids to get caught up and get all those learning skills in before kindergarten in a safe place for them to be while their parents are working.”

Lagerstrom added that the Country Day students were “very enthusiastic” and brought energy to the project.

“I also love the creativity,” Lagerstrom said. One of the houses being painted had a garden theme and another had an ocean theme. “We have stencils and provided them some direction about a base coat layer, but they collaborated on what it will look like, which I think is fantastic.”

Fifth-grader Sasha (the school allowed only first names to be published) said the project is “really nice” because “we get to make something for people … not as fortunate as we are.”

Sasha, 10, puts the finishing touches on a playhouse.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The 10-year-old said it was interesting to learn about the Habitat for Humanity mission and the cost and time it takes to build a house.

She added that it’s nice that the children who will receive a playhouse “will have a place to use their imagination and play.” ◆