PHOENIX – Army Reserve soldiers from the 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion in Buckeye, Ariz., came to Phoenix on Sept. 27, 2013, to give the children of Maryvale Preparatory Academy something they have never had before: a playground.
Thanks to Kaboom, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to give children everywhere a place to play, Maryvale was given the pieces to build a beautiful new playground. However, they still needed to put those pieces together.
Many parents came out to help assemble the playground, including Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Cook, Charlie Company, 492nd CA Battalion training noncommissioned officer in charge.
“It meant a lot having support from the 492nd,” said Cook. “I was able to get my leave approved on short notice so I could come out here and be a part of this.”
Cook was also able to get helping hands from his own unit, including Master Sgt. Scott Fortune, operations noncommissioned officer in charge, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 492nd CA Battalion.
“I came because Sgt. 1st Class Cook mentioned they were doing a big project to build the kids a playground. They haven’t ever had one before, so I came out to lend a hand,” said Fortune. “The experience has been great. It’s amazing to see all these people working together.”
With more than 257 volunteers putting in more than 1,200 man-hours the playground was built in less than six hours.
“I’m speechless when I look at what we have given to these children,” said Mac Esau, headmaster of the Maryvale Preparatory Academy. “We have given them the gift of play.”
At the end of the school day, the children got to see the playground for the first time and were eager to play on it. However, because the cement needed 36 hours to dry, they had to endure a long weekend before being able to enjoy the new playground. Nonetheless, they showed their appreciation by screaming thank you, in unison, to all the volunteers.