Elementary playground much closer to reality

The Fredonia Playground Committee is much closer to its fundraising goal to install an age-appropriate playground for 3- to 5-year-old children at the school, but will need help from the community to make it a reality.

The committee, co-chaired by teachers Cristina Gegenschatz and Kris Puglisi, announced the results of its 2012 fundraising campaign.

Almost $30,000 was raised through various activities and has been placed in a trust fund.

The committee set a goal of $50,000 for the playground’s construction.

“This movement has been propelled by two moms who care, and within one year we have already raised a remarkable $30,000 with the generous assistance of those in our community, and in conjunction with the Fredonia Elementary PTA,” the committee reported in a press release.

Part of the funds raised came through an anonymous source. “A tremendous gesture of generosity was recently made by an individual who made an anonymous monetary donation of $10,000 to the Fredonia Elementary PTA; $8,000 of which was earmarked to help fund the playground,” the press release stated.

Several activities were held throughout the year to generate funds, including a dinner and auction in June. “We have written and won grants, had multiple school fund raisers, received many donations, earned much publicity with the auction and dinner gala which raised $8,000,” the committee reported.

The committee had praise for its volunteers and those who contributed. “We are enormously proud of the hard work and dedication of hundreds of individuals in our community who have opened their hearts and helped make this such a successful fund raising campaign. Many thanks to all of the businesses who donated such generous gifts for the gala prizes.”

The goal to raise enough money to build an age-appropriate playground for the 3- to 5-year-old children at Fredonia Elementary School came about after it was determined equipment from the Wheelock School could not be relocated to the campus on Main Street. The existing playground on the main campus is only designed to be safe for children 5 years old and up. Removing the equipment designed for younger children from the Wheelock School would compromise the structural integrity of the equipment, and construction of a new playground is not part of the school’s budget, which is constrained by cuts in state aid.

“Fredonia Elementary is a publicly funded school being forced to rely more and more on significant additional fund raising. This is the third year in a row New York state has reduced its aid to the district by a three-year total of more than $6 million. … So, more than ever before, fundraising dollars are the key to achieving educational goals for local children,” the committee stated in its news release.

Exercise is important for young students, according to the committee. “The benefits of exercise are numerous, including physical fitness, confidence, more energy, improved concentration and memory, and greater self-esteem. It is the committee’s belief the youngest students should not have to go without a playground.”

While the committee is pleased with the support of the community and the amount raised, another $20,000 is required to meet its goal.

“We are still accepting donations for this hugely important venture. … With a small push we will be able to reach our goal of $50,000. … All contributions are 501(c)(3) tax deductible.”

Donations can be made out to the Fredonia Elementary PTA Play-ground Fund, sent to Fre-donia Elementary School, Attn: Playground Fund, 425 E. Main St., Fredonia 14063.

More information is available by going to the committee’s Facebook page, first by logging into Facebook, then typing “Fredonia Elementary PTA Playground Fund” into Facebook’s search window.

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