CHATHAM – After some finagling, a playhouse-size model of the Eldredge Public Library now sits on the lawn of the town offices, across Main Street from the historic library.
The Friends of the Eldredge Public Library hope the high visibility of the location will help sell raffle ticket for the playhouse, which was donated by Cape Associates, Inc. The money raised will help support the library's youth program, the Learning Series and other programs, as well as equipment purchases outside of the library's regular budget.
“It's quite a gift,” Sherry Hesch, the Friends board member who has been overseeing the project, said of Cape Associates' donation, which sports a replica of the original's “Eldredge Public Library 1895” sign.
The library playhouse is one of two playhouses the building company constructs and donates each year to Cape nonprofit organizations. This year the company also built a windmill that is being raffled by the Brewster Historical Society. Past playhouses have been modeled at lighthouse, Coast Guard Station, a bank and one of the Kennedy homes, said Human Resources Manager Lindsay Cole.
“It's been fun to do all these different designs,” she said.
The company began building and donating playhouses in 2001, when Cole's late father, Michael Cole, who founded the business, thought it would be a fun way to give back to the community. It began at Windmill Weekend in Eastham, the company's home base. In 2007 the company began choosing two organizations to benefit and building two playhouses.
Giving back to the community is “something we strongly believe in,” Cole said. “It was a way of incorporating what we do, which is building, and something for children. It's putting the best of all worlds together, and doing something that wasn't really done around here 18 years ago.”
Through last year, raffles of the company's playhouses have raised more than $125,000, she said.
Each playhouse costs between $6,000 and $9,000 to build, and is designed and constructed by Cape Associates staff. Nonprofits must apply to get on the company's waiting list; Hesch said Friends Ways and Means Committee Chair Carol Geary put in a request in 2015.
“I'm still four years out on both of my waiting lists,” Cole said. One organization is generally chosen from the Lower Cape and another from the Mid Cape. Cape Associates has offices in Eastham, Chatham and Yarmouth.
Once built, the playhouse is handed off to the chosen nonprofit, which is responsible for selling the raffle tickets. Organizations also get to keep 100 percent of the money raised. Cape Associates transports the playhouse to a location for display, and will deliver and install it for the winner.
Raffle tickets are $10 each or three for $20, and can be purchased at the library's front desk. Hesch said orders will also be taken by mail; the group hopes summer residents who may not be in town between now and the Dec. 31 drawing for the winner will use the mail-in option.
“I'm hoping that some of our local people who aren't here right now will take advantage of that,” she said, adding that the library if often packed with children. “It's their favorite place. To extend that experience of the library to your own backyard, what could be better?”
She lauded Cape Associates for its generosity and said they were “really terrific people to work with.”
“They're just delightful people,” she said.
For more information or to order tickets by mail, email the Friends at firstname.lastname@example.org.