Churches to renovate playground

Emmanuel Lutheran and Holy Trinity Lutheran church members plan to let their hands do God’s work to renew the Centennial Park playground, asking volunteers to join them at 1 p.m. next Sunday.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, with each church in the ELCA doing community service projects on Sept. 8 to honor the coming together of the various Lutheran churches.

“Hopefully the community will want to be involved like they were before,” Sandy Capel said.

A member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Capel recalled how members of the community came together to build the Swings-n-Things playground over several days in 1996. The volunteers endured the elements to finish the massive wooden structure and now the community is once again being asked to step forward.

“We want to make this again a playground our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren can enjoy,” Capel said.

She suggested that perhaps children or grandchildren of people who worked on the project the first time around could help this time in honor of their family members who built the playground.

“Anybody who makes use of the playground is welcome to come and help,” Pastor Alan Smearsoll of Emmanuel Lutheran said.

Once organizers decided on the project, they came to the realization that it’s too big for their two churches alone.

St. Paul’s and other local churches have been invited to come, along with numerous service organizations, such as the Kiwanis and Rotary Club and the Salem High School Key Club and National Honor Society.

Some prep work and repairs will be completed on Saturday by the Property Division of Emmanuel Lutheran Church and other volunteers from the churches to get ready for the bigger job on Sunday. Capel said they’ll need to pull overgrowth away from the fencing and structures, get debris off of the climbing parts and cover the walkways with cardboard or tarps so they won’t get sealer on them.

“Every piece of wood has to be resealed to preserve it,” Pastor Connie Sassanella of Holy Trinity Lutheran said.

People are being asked to bring work gloves, garden rakes and wheel barrows. Home Depot is contributing some supplies and organizers are soliciting donations from other businesses. Any business wanting to donate supplies can call Emmanuel Lutheran Church at 330-332-5042.

“What better way to show God’s work than by using our hands to do it,” Capel said.

At the same time crews are working on the playground, school supplies will be collected at the pavilion off of Court Drive near the playground to provide to teachers at Buckeye Elementary for their students who need them.

Sassanella said brands designated on the list should be purchased. The list includes backpacks, 24-count Crayola crayons, Elmer’s glue (not the glue sticks), scissors, Crayola markers, 12-inch ruler, #2 yellow pencils, tissues, Clorox wipes, folders, notebook filler paper (wide-lined) and pink erasers. The list also included 5/6 size boys and girls underwear because kids sometimes have accidents and medium white crew socks for kids who come to school without any.

The event will feature some entertainment, with Butch Hallewell playing his guitar and singing at the pavilion while people work.

Capel said the city needs a community event like this to bring everybody together for something good.

Salem Parks Director Steve Faber advised the parks commission recently about the upcoming project by the churches. He said the playground will be closed Sept. 7 and 8.

“We appreciate their willingness to step up,” he said.