CSUEB students build new playground

by Kris Stewart,
Managing Editor

Swings and slides went up on Saturday at the Salvation Army in Downtown Hayward, adding to a semi-vacant play area for children in their after school program.

The idea for the playground came from Cal State East Bay senior Javier Lopez, a criminal justice major with a minor in sociology. Since January of last year Lopez has volunteered with the Salvation Army as part of the CSUEB Center for Community Engagement program “Pioneer for Change.”

The program gave Lopez a list of places to choose where he could volunteer; he had an interest in working with kids and decided on the Salvation Army because of their after school program.

“I noticed that the kids only had computers and a basketball court,” said Lopez. “Some kids would play but the others would sit down and wait for their parents to come which would be about 20 minutes.”

Amy Mefford has been the youth coordinator for the Salvation Army for over 16 years and says Lopez came to her asking what his fraternity could do to help the Salvation Army. After putting some thought into it they discussed the possibility of putting in a playground.

“For the little ones there’s not much to do,” said Mefford.

Lopez proposed the idea to his fraternity, Lambda Theta Phi, after which they set up a GoFundMe page, held an ice-cream fundraiser and worked at Levi’s Stadium events to raise money for the playground. In three months they were able to raise $2,500 to cover the cost of the playground materials. The money was raised in May but Mefford thought it would be a good idea for the students to wait until after summer break to build the playground.

In three months they were able to raise $2,500 to cover the cost of the playground materials

Twenty people came out on Saturday to help build the playground. Several members from Lambda Theta Phi helped, as well as members of the First Presbyterian Church of Hayward in Castro Valley, including several professional contractors that donated money for baseboards and shredded tire for the playground’s foundation.

“It was an all day project. It literally took like nine to five,” said Mefford.

Lopez wasn’t able to participate in the building of the playground due to an injury. “I felt horrible not being there but I felt better knowing that my fraternity brothers were there,” he said.

Currently, 30 children are registered in The Salvation Army’s after school program, Kids Club, and approximately 45 children are registered in their troops program, a Christian based program similar to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

They also have a women’s bible study for Spanish speaking women who often need to bring their children with them. The new play structure will be used during those times to keep the children occupied.

“All props go to Javier because this was his project that he proposed to the boys and made it happen,” said Mefford.