It took more than 50 people starting early Saturday morning to put together a new playground outside Providence Baptist Church before cold, midafternoon rain hit.
The playground that rose up on the patch of ground off Madison Avenue brought together church members and nonmembers from the West Akron neighborhood.
That coming together of people is basically the playground’s purpose, said Vincent Peterson, pastor of Providence Baptist and its roughly 150-member congregation.
“It’s not a church playground. It’s a community playground,” Peterson said. “It’s about community working together.”
And work they did.
Kicking off the construction and assembly was a morning check presentation by Keurig Dr Pepper and nonprofit KaBOOM!, which gave a $15,000 “Let’s Play Community Construction Grant” to the church-affiliated nonprofit Providence Serving People Inc.
The money will help offset the playground’s estimated $45,000 cost; others gave materials and loaned machinery. The church has received other donations and held fundraisers to defray costs as well.
Carmilla Carter, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 13 years, was among the playground construction volunteers.
“It’s going to be a place for the neighborhood children to come out and play,” she said. “This is a good event. It’s nice to see the neighborhood people come out and help, and the church people come out and help.”
Akron City Councilman Russ Neal, the Ward 4 representative, was among the volunteers who in the morning helped break ground, pour concrete and then set up the playground equipment. He remained there through the afternoon, at that point pushing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of mulch that was then shoveled and raked under and around a newly set-up swing set.
“Providence is an anchor in this area,” Neal said. “There’s no other playground [near] here.”
One cool thing about Saturday’s event is that the volunteers who will later drive and walk by the finished playground will know they helped put it together, Neal said.
Playground volunteer Patricia Idley, 71, remembered moving to the neighborhood near the church in 1962, where she has lived ever since. She wore her official LeBron James Grandmothers’ Fan Club T-shirt to the event.
“It’s fun to work together and beautify the neighborhood,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful.”
Jim Mackinnon covers business and county government. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.