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Under the Hammer

Children at Lord of Life Lutheran build a playhouse to benefit Habitat for Humanity.

They concentrated hard on the wood frame in front of them and pounded. Some hit the nail dead-on. Others weren't so accurate. Still, the bottom line for a week-long project at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Fairfax wasn't making every strike accurate, but finishing a project that would benefit others.

Eighteen fifth and sixth graders from the church took part in building a playhouse that would be auctioned to raise funds to benefit the work of non-profit Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia.

"Many people get a sense of fulfillment … my sweat today made that wall stand up. The idea of working with children, getting them involved in philanthropy, giving and making something. They'll get to see … this is what my gift will do," said Bart Tucker, President of the Board for Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia (HFHNV).

The construction project took place in the back parking lot of the church, which typically hosts Vacation Bible School programs for students up to grade four. This year, a summer camp called "Mission: Possible" included fifth and sixth graders, but with a more service-oriented goal.

"They've been involved with Habitat for other things, but never like this," said Liz Pagan, an HFHNV volunteer and member of the church. "This is the first time they're hands-on, building and Habitat certainly entrusted them with the building of the playhouse."

BUILT FROM a model, the playhouse will be child-sized, at 5 feet by 7 feet, and stand 57 inches tall when completed. Habitat's ReStore, which includes donated supplies from contractors, supplied paint and roofing shingles for the project, and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans took care of the rest of the supplies. Students worked on the project for nearly three hours daily, until the project would be complete on Friday, Aug. 5.

"I think it's fun because I like doing this kind of stuff, and knowing that it will be helping people," said Jessica Ferrari, a student from Fairfax, whose father is a contractor.

In Northern Virginia, HFH is currently working on its 50th home, under construction at Briarwood Trace near the Vienna/Fairfax Metro Station. Like the national Habitat for Humanity non-profit, the local branch builds homes for families who have qualified based on socio-economic factors.

"That's the thrill of working for Habitat — getting to see the person who you build for. They don't have that," said Pagan.

Pagan said she does plan, however, to document the future of the playhouse for the students to see. When completed, it will be on display in the Lord of Life lobby, then will be stored at the ReStore. In October, the playhouse will be one of dozens of items up for auction at HFHNV's "Black Tie and Tool Belt" gala. Proceeds from the playhouse, expected to be over $500, will benefit HFHNV.

Not bad for a week's work.

"It's about doing for others. That is something that knows no faith boundaries," said Pagan.