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TAYLORSVILLE, NC (WBTV) – The Kiwanis fundraising effort to build a playground in memory of Zahra Baker got a boost on Thursday from a group of inmates in the Alexander Correctional facility.
The Men's Club there raised $650 through the sale of hamburgers and added another $350 from other donations and sales.
The $1000 total was presented to Annette Setzer who has been spearheading fundraising efforts at her Chik Fil A store in Hickory.
"I am overwhelmed by this," she said. Setzer says the total will grow to $2000 "Because Corporate said they would match any funds we raised through the month of July.
The inmates got involved after seeing television reports on the Zahra Baker case. The prison is a "close-custody" unit where inmates convicted of only the most serious crimes are housed.
Ricky Royster of Winston-Salem is serving a life sentence without parole for Murder. Jerry land is in the same situation, already having served 11 years.
Both are members of the Men's Club and said they just had to get involved after hearing about Zahra Baker's death and efforts to build a playground in her memory.
"Even though we made mistakes doesn't mean our heart has been taken out," said Royster. Land said it was something he and other inmates felt they had to do for all the children. "Somebody's got to look out for them."
The playground area will be designed specifically for handicapped children. It will be placed in Kiwanis Park.
More than $100,000 has been raised so far with officials hoping to double that by the end of September.
Royster and Land hope to see some pictures of the playground once it is built. In all likelihood, both know they will probably never get to see it in person, but say they will know they had a part in it and will carry that with them always.
Zahra Baker, they said, will not be forgotten. "She definitely touched our hearts," said Royster.