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Operation Playhouse


Operation Playhouse is a unique program that benefits local veterans and military families and their children. We are proud to give back to those who have served our country and encourage our partners to do the same.


We are looking to identify veterans or military members living in New England with young children (ages 2-12) who would like to receive a playhouse as a thank you for your service.


We annually host three playhouse Build-a-Thons. One is held in MetroWest and two in Greater Worcester. These are exciting events where organizations come together and build several playhouses.


A house captain will be the "expert" volunteer in charge of one playhouse, the person who instructs the team building the house as to the necessary steps. We provide training beforehand.


Operation Playhouse is a unique program that benefits local veterans and military families and their children. Children of veterans are often left with a one-parent household and have to cope with feelings of loss and uncertainty. The playhouses provide a special place for family members to bond, play, dream, and think. It is a “home” of their own.

We are proud to give back to our veterans and military families who have served our country. As the only Habitat affiliate on the East Coast to offer Operation Playhouse, and one of just a handful across the U.S. to provide the program, the day-long activity is popular and in demand with our sponsors and partners.

You can build a playhouse with your team at different venues. Playhouses can be built on your own site, space permitting, or we can help find you one. See more details below. Or, you can join our Build-A-Thons held in June in MetroWest and Greater Worcester (sites to be determined).

How Does It Work? Teams work together to construct and decorate colorful and themed children’s playhouses, which are then donated to the veteran family at the end of the day.

Where and When can I take part in Operation Playhouse? There are many options for your team to take part in building a playhouse to benefit the family of a veteran! We build outdoors from May 1st – September 30th and indoors from October 1st – April 30th. We build all year long.

Weather permitting, we build outdoors and can come to your site, space permitting. If it rains, or the weather is too cold for paint to dry, we have a partnership with Veterans Inc. in Worcester. They allow us to use their indoor space, suitable for many playhouses to be built at one time.

  1. The playhouse can be built right at your own site, indoors or outdoors, if the space is big enough and appropriate. (We need at least a 30’ x 40’ space for each playhouse to lay down tarps).
  2. Or, you can find your own space, off-site, at which you’d like to build the playhouse. Our Operation Playhouse Manager will make an appointment to check out the site beforehand.
  3. We have a partnership with Veterans Inc. in Worcester to use their beautiful indoor Armory/Drill Hall space, which easily holds up to 10 playhouses.
  4. Another option is to join one of our Operation Playhouse Build-A-Thons that we hold in MetroWest and Greater Worcester.

Who Builds the Playhouses? Teams of 8 – 12 people can build playhouses: corporations, faith groups, community organizations, and groups of friends.

What happens before the Operation Playhouse event? Before your Operation Playhouse event, our Operation Playhouse Manager will contact the parents of the child who is scheduled to receive a playhouse. The interests of the child are determined, and a theme for the playhouse is chosen. Playhouse themes include: American Flag/Patriotic, Barnyard, Boston Red Sox, Camouflage, Castle, Construction, Cozy Cottage, Firehouse, Frozen, Log Cabin, Minnie & Mickey Mouse, New England Patriots, and Space. The themes are then passed along to each partner who is building the playhouse so they can be prepared for their day. Decorations or add-ons for the playhouse are optional, and some teams choose to purchase them.

The day of your event: On the day of your playhouse event, your team will gather at a pre-selected site from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. You will build the playhouse from a kit, paint, and decorate the playhouse according to your theme. At about 3:30 PM, the veteran family arrives at the site to receive the playhouse. The child is surprised and delighted, and it is a touching, personal, and heartwarming conclusion to the day. Your team will meet the family, spend time with them, and learn about the veteran’s service to our country.

Do I need experience? No experience is necessary! The playhouses are built from a kit, which our local technical high schools put together for us at no cost. While you will be using some tools for simple construction tasks, we have experienced staff and volunteers on-site all day to help you every step of the way. There is plenty of time during the day to build the playhouse, paint and decorate it before the family arrives.

What we provide: We provide all tools, paints, and a table on which to store the items. We also provide staff and volunteers to help you during the day.

What do you contribute? Our partners contribute a tax-deductible donation of $3,000 for each playhouse built to cover the cost of materials, our staff time, and to further our efforts to expand Operation Playhouse to give back to more local veterans and military families who have served our country. Some partners choose to purchase decorations to go along with the theme of their playhouse, based on the interests of the children. This is optional.

Operation Playhouse Contest. Playhouses will be judged on creativity, design ideas, and add-ons to enhance their chosen theme. At the end of the year, there will be featured playhouses chosen by Habitat staff after reviewing all of the playhouses built in 2020. The playhouses will then be promoted on-line and voted upon by our supporters. The team's playhouse that received the most votes will receive a free Build Day for a team of 10 – 12, and plenty of social media attention. This will be a friendly competition designed to add to the fun and spirit of Operation Playhouse. The 2020 winner will be announced in January of 2021. 

“Veterans have a special place in our heart here at SEM,” said Mr. Cakounes, who is SEM's Executive Vice President “We are filled with gratitude to those who have served our country and protect our freedom, so giving back in some small way through Operation Playhouse was an absolute honor.”

“This event was incredibly special to me personally,” added Korean War Veteran Leonard Rosen, who is SEM’s founder and Chairman of the Board. “Mr. Brown selflessly served his country, ensuring our rights and freedom. That is a debt we can never repay, so we were thrilled to be able to do something to bring joy to him and his family.”

Read more about the Security Engineered Machinery (SEM) Operation Playhouse build here.

Photos from the SEM Playhouse Build

“I wanted to write and personally thank you for our Playhouse we received last month. The kids love it and we are so grateful. Words cannot express our true appreciation for what you, Habitat and all the participants did. You guys are simply amazing. God Bless!” - Kevin, Robyn, Reagan and Georgia Preston

 “Can’t thank the folks at Operation Playhouse enough! They knocked it out of the park with their generosity, kindness and craftsmanship. My kids absolutely love the playhouse, and practically spend every day in it, thanks again all!” – MAJ Matthew R. Paquin, AO/HHD Commander MEDCOM

“My family is very grateful for the support that Habitat for Humanity provided us. The playhouse they built for our two sons was a wonderful gift. The boys absolutely love it! We cannot thank them enough for their kindness and generosity.” -Glen Kernusky

A big thank you to our 2020 Operation Playhouse Honor Sponsors!

A big thank you to our 2020 Operation Playhouse Bravery Sponsors!

Ready to move forward with an Operation Playhouse build? or For more information, contact Deborah Huegel at deborah.huegel@habitatmwgw.org or by phone at 508-799-9259 x 118.


We appreciate your service! Do you meet the following criteria?

  1. Be a US military member or veteran with a general or honorable discharge, or currently serving on active duty, Reserves or National Guard;
  2. The military family or veteran should reside in any of the New England states: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut or Maine;
  3. The family must have children or grandchildren ages 2-12 years old;
  4. Must arrive at the agreed upon Operation Playhouse event time of 3:00 PM with your children and family. It is helpful, but not required, for the veteran to wear fatigues. Exact locations vary as to the company or partner that may be sponsoring the playhouse.
  5. Transporting your playhouse: Please either bring a full-size pick-up truck with a 6-foot bed, a full-size van, or a 5' x 6' or larger trailer. When measuring your vehicle, please take into account wheel wells, bed cover rails and bed liners. Please make sure to remove any accessories that might alter the size of the bed. Habitat staff will assist in loading the playhouse onto the vehicle. The playhouse is approximately 4 feet 3 inches wide x 5 feet 3 inches long x 5 feet tall. The roof is detachable in two sections and fits above the truck wheel wells. Please bring rope or cargo straps to secure your playhouse.
  6. If you do not have access to the proper size truck or trailer an inexpensive U-Haul rental is another option. Please visit their website for more information > www.uhaul.com

More about How To Request A Playhouse

Are you a veteran or military family living in New England with children or grandchildren ages 2 – 12 years old? If so, please let us know if your child would like to receive a playhouse through our Operation Playhouse program.

Our operation playhouse manager will work with you to determine a theme for your playhouse based on your child’s interests. Playhouse themes: American Flag/Patriotic, Barnyard, Boston Red Sox, Camouflage, Castle, Construction, Cozy Cottage, Firehouse, Frozen, Log Cabin, Minnie & Mickey Mouse, New England Patriots, and Space

Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester is the only Habitat affiliate on the East Coast, and one of a few nationwide, that offers Operation Playhouse. We build playhouses primarily in the MetroWest and Greater Worcester areas of Massachusetts with teams of 8 – 12 participants. Each playhouse is sponsored by a company or other group as a way to give back to veterans and military families.

Operation Playhouse is open to any veteran or military family in New England. As a Veterans Build affiliate, Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester is proud to serve those who have served our country. We thank you for your service!

If you are interested and meet the above criteria, the next steps are to complete the Veteran Playhouse Application. Click on the Veteran Playhouse Application button below.

Thank you for your service! We are honored to give back to the service men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country. 

Please note that once a playhouse leaves the site, we cannot be responsible for damage.  On behalf of all our staff, volunteers, and partners, we wish you many happy years enjoying your thoughtfully built playhouse!

For more information, contact our operation playhouse manager at playhouse@habitatmwgw.org.


Due to health and safety issues in regards to the Coronavirus crisis, our Operation Playhouse Build-A-Thon events scheduled for June 13, 2020, June 26, 2020 & July 24, 2020 have been cancelled. Our tentative plans are to reschedule the Operation Playhouse event to a Fall 2020 or Spring/Summer 2021 date; however,we are watching the state’s guidelines and directives in order to determine the date.

  1. MetroWest Operation Playhouse Build-A-Thon on June 13th: CANCELLED – New Date TBD
  2. 1st Greater Worcester Operation Playhouse Build-A-Thon on June 26th: CANCELLED – New Date TBD
  3. 2nd Greater Worcester Operation Playhouse Build-A-Thon on July 24th: CANCELLED – New Date TBD

Each of our partners who build a playhouse makes a $3,000 contribution towards our mission to build homes, communities and hope for local families and veterans.  The contribution goes towards the purchase of materials and paint for the playhouse, and for staff time. 

Operation Playhouse Build-A-Thon events are  where multiple sponsors come together at one site to build their own playhouse for the children of veteran and military families!

  1. Each Build-A-Thon event takes place in one day, and is hosted from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
  2. Each team at the Build-A-Thon will be comprised of 8-12 people.
  3. Each team will meet the veteran family for whom they built the playhouse at the end of the day in a small celebration.
  4. A Build-A-Thon is an exciting event to take part in - meet new people and make new friends as you build your playhouse for a veteran family.

Photos to the left are of last year's Build-A-Thon events at MetroWest and Greater Worcester.

For more information, contact Deborah Huegel at deborah.huegel@habitatmwgw.org or by phone at 508-799-9259 x 118.

A big thank you to our 2019 Greater Worcester Operation Playhouse Build-A-Thon Site Sponsor—Mercantile Center!

A big thank you to our 2019 MetroWest and Greater Worcester Operation Playhouse Build-a-Thon Sponsors!

Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester complies with the U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation. We support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or sources of income.

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640 Lincoln Street, Suite 100, Worcester, MA 01605, 508-799-9259