Elroy Elementary School students received an early Christmas present

Elroy Elementary School students received an early Christmas present, as an effort to raise more than $30,000 for playground equipment has been successful.

Teacher Amy Smith announced that the Brentwood school playground will get the new playset in the spring. Smith started raising money in October 2015 when one of the playground slides was cracked and graffiti was on the playset. “It was something I wanted to do for a few years, but I finally said I am going to do this,” Smith said. “The kids deserve playtime and we needed an updated playset to feed their imaginations.”

After researching playground companies online, she got in touch with Play & Park Structures of Chattanooga, Tenn. Smith and Elroy Principal Barbara Pagan selected the set and colors.

Smith raised $33,882 through grants and donations from businesses and community members. The Elroy PTA, which made a $700 donation last year, came through with another $2,600 to provide final funds necessary to pay for the equipment. The Brentwood School Board on Nov. 21 approved the contract with Play & Park Structures, a purchase made through the federal Cooperative Purchasing Network. Because of initial cost estimates, the goal was to raise $35,000. But the final bill will be $31,202.

In the spring, community members are to help build the playset.

For fundraisers, Smith organized several special events for students, such as an obstacle course in the gymnasium, where they could make a $1 donation. Dave Tinker, who has two daughters at Elroy, assisted Smith with grant writing, she said. That resulted in a $5,000 grant from the Snee-Reinhardt Charitable Foundation of Pittsburgh and a $2,000 grant from the Martha Fund.

Smith set up a GoFundMe account to accept most donations. Key contributors were the Brentwood Park Initiative with a $5,000 donation and Cappetta Dentistry with a $2,500 donation. Smith posted a running tally sheet showing the fundraising progress and broke the big news to students at an assembly on Nov. 23, while holding back tears.

Smith grew up in the community and is a 1991 Brentwood High School graduate. “I just really wanted to give back to the community,” she said. The playground is used by students in kindergarten through the fifth grade, as well as the community. “She has worked so hard,” Superintendent Amy Burch said. “It’s a great example of what our teachers are willing to do for this district.”

Pagan said Smith did a wonderful job of getting the community to support the endeavor. “We’re just so excited that we reached the goal,” Pagan said. “We’re looking forward to that (spring) day.”

Link to original article can be found here: http://triblive.com/local/southhills/11515576-74/smith-community-brentwood

Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805 or jspezialetti@tribweb.com.