After over a year of fundraising efforts, the Stuart Parks & Recreation Association finally purchased new playground equipment for DeHart Park.
Amy Corns, chairman of the association’s fundraising committee, said the group decided on the goal of getting a new playground set in 2019.
“Then the pandemic occurred. We didn’t feel as a group that with people not working and being stuck at home to ask for donations. So, we kind of set it aside,” she said.
At the beginning of 2021, a fundraising campaign that would take place throughout the year was laid out. Despite the ongoing pandemic and the concern, Corns said the group felt like outdoor recreation was at most important for families and children.
“We felt like it was safe because it was outside, and the children could space out. And we found out that the virus didn’t live on surfaces, so we felt comfortable,” she said.
To meet its $30,000 goal to purchase the equipment, the group held bingo events, drive-thru dinners, and free, donation-friendly fitness classes on Saturdays during the summer.
“The people of the community have been so gracious. They would just give and say, ‘we want to give to the playground,’” she said.
Corns said the biggest fundraising event was the first annual Festival of Lights that was held in December.
“It was our first year and we didn’t know how it was going to go. Our goal was to raise $4,000-$5,000 and we raised over $9,000. That just put us over the top,” she said.
The organization also received several thousand dollars in donations from the Patrick County Tourism Department and the Town of Stuart.
The group was intent on getting “the biggest bang for its buck,” according to Corns, who estimates the selected playground pieces, and the cost of installation, at $35,000.
The new multi-colored equipment has four slides and a large crawling jungle gym. “It’s actually bigger than the piece that we did have down there,” she said.
As the group is always looking to improve the park, Corns said the next big project will be renovations on the park’s bathrooms.
“We feel it is much needed. We would like to make them ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible and just make them nice for our community,” she said.
Donations to support the organization’s projects can be made by mailing checks to the Recreation Department, P.O. Box 506 Stuart, VA, or dropping them off at the department, which is located in the Stuart site of the Patrick & Henry Community College (P&HCC).
For more information about the equipment and the park, visit Facebook.com/DehartPark-StuartPark&RecreationAssociation.