Shelton fro-yo shop joins Newtown playgrounds fund-raiser

A Shelton frozen yogurt shop will help raise money for a regional project to build 26 playgrounds in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

PeachWave 702 Bridgeport Ave., is participating in the fund-raising effort as well as four establishments in Monroe.

The Sandy Ground Project began as an effort to help rebuild coastal communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy but was transformed after the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown.

The effort is spearheaded by New Jersey firefighters and has raised money to build six of the playgrounds, including one in Stratford dedicated to slain teacher Victoria Soto.

Victims’ families play a role

“They talked to each of the families and decided where to build them,” said Francine Mowka, a Monroe resident who was moved to raise money for the project. She has organized a day when local ice cream and yogurt shops will collect donations and donate a portion of their proceeds to the effort.

The fundraiser will be Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16 and 17.

Participating shops are:

— PeachWave 702 Bridgeport Ave., Shelton

— Baskin Robbins, 235 Main St., Monroe

— Dairy Queen 402 Main St., Monroe

— Frosty Bear, 695 Main St., Monroe

— PeachWave, 535 Monroe Tpke., Monroe

Attended camp together

Mowka said her young daughter went to camp with one of the children killed in the Dec. 14 tragedy. She helped handle the massive influx of donations immediately after the shooting and worked on the Ben’s Bells project to spread goodwill.

When she heard about the playgrounds project, she decided to get involved.

Memorializing a child

“A number of playgrounds were destroyed in Sandy and what better way to memorialize a child?” Mowka said. “I asked if they needed volunteers. They said they needed volunteers to help build a playground in Westport.”

The Westport playground was dedicated to Dylan Hockley, one of the student victims at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Seeing the playground in use was a satisfying feeling for Mowka. “To see them with a smile on their face — it just touched my heart,” she said.

She heard from other volunteers the project really needed fund-raising help, so she set out to raise money in and near her hometown. The playgrounds can cost about $80,000 each.

Learn more about the project at