Children’s museum still in need of summer volunteers

May 30, 2014
Emma Grace Plummer works on putting away items in the grocery store area of Sandcastles.

Emma Grace Plummer works on putting away items in the grocery store area of Sandcastles.

By Kate Krieger. MCP Correspondent.

LUDINGTON – In its fourth year at its current location in downtown Ludington, the Sandcastles Children’s Museum has seen thousands of families enter through its doors to enjoy almost 30 different exhibits, ranging from ancient Egypt to the S.S. Badger. With all the activity at the museum, it is still in need of one thing, volunteers. The museum is looking for summer volunteers to help maintain the museum and to help families enjoy all it has to offer.

sandcastles3Darlene Ponko, one of the museum founders, museum secretary, volunteer coordinator and board member said that Sandcastles is looking for mostly afternoon volunteers from now until Labor Day.

“Mostly what we need is p.m. shift coverage,” she said. “We need the volunteers to enjoy working with people and to interact with families, children and grandparents.”

The museum offers three different volunteer shifts to choose from. The first shift is from 9:30 a.m.-noon. The second is from noon-2:30 p.m. and the third is 2:30 until 5 p.m. The museum is open Monday through Saturday.

“The main job is to keep the museum and the children safe,” Ponko said. “We need them to help keep the exhibits tidy as well.”

Ponko stated that the museum really was able to be created because of all the volunteers who came out to assist, especially when they relocated four years ago to the old Elks Lodge on the corner of Ludington Avenue and Harrison Street. She stated that there were over 75 volunteers who helped in the relocation and building of the museum and they documented over 4,000 hours of time spent working to put everything together.

“Sandcastles really depends on volunteers,” she said. “We really appreciate all the volunteers. I don’t think we could survive without them.”

From knocking down walls, installing exhibits and even baking cookies for other volunteers, each volunteer had his or her certain part of the existence of Sandcastles.

“We have become a destination,” Ponko said. “People come to Ludington to come to the museum. Our main focus was to help out downtown Ludington and I believe that we are doing that.”

photo 2-1To become a volunteer, applications are available at the museum or they can be downloaded off of their website at or by calling Darlene Ponko at 231-843-3323 or emailing her at

Admission for Sandcastles is $5 per person or a family can purchase a yearly membership for $80, which covers the admission of up to four children and two adults.

“We are a non-profit and we are able to keep the prices down because of our donors, sponsors, grants and fundraisers,” Ponko said. “Coming a couple of times can pay for a year membership.”

About 250 memberships are sold each year to locals and tourists and the museum had over 22,000 visitors last year alone.

“We really can be a more interactive museum because of our volunteers,” Ponko said. “People tell us all the time that they really enjoy what the museum has to offer.”


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