The children of the Walnut Tree community waited patiently before getting the go-ahead from neighboring adults to play on their brand new park which opened the end of October.
“It took us about a day-and-a half to get it all together,” said David Hairston, who helped spearhead the project which began in the fall of last year. “We had to let the concrete sit when we finished on Sunday. We told the kids they could play on Wednesday and when I drove over there, they were ready to go.”
The park is located in the center of the neighborhood made up of 71 homes on three lots donated by Dorothy and Marvin Dalton. It’s been built in honor of Dewey and Mary Mitchell, longtime residents who passed away nearly 10 years ago.
The project kicked off in late 2016 when Hairston secured a $15,000 Let’s Play Community Construction Grant through the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) and national non-profit KaBOOM.
Duke Energy also donated $8,000 to help towards clearing the lots and recently contributed an additional $1,000 to help with the finalization of the project.
“We’re neighbors, our plant is close by and we’ve had a presence here in Walnut Cove for more than 40 years,” said Jimmy Flythe, Duke Energy’s Director of Government and Community Relations. “Our employees like to give back. For us, it’s just part of being a good neighbor in the community and it’s something we wanted to do. David came to us and was raising money and it seemed to be a good fit.”
Hairston said the neighborhood has rallied for the past year to see the project come to fruition from fundraising to logistics.
“There’s a lot to it. It’s been exciting to see the land go from woods to a cleared lot. The kids enjoyed riding their bikes on it and throwing football even before the playground equipment was delivered,” he said.
On the day of the build, Hairston said around 35 people helped put it together, while ladies served food and music played in the background.
Although the playground is located in the Walnut Tree neighborhood, the Walnut Cove community played a huge part in its completion, Hairston said.
“Everybody has been so generous. It’s because they care about our kids. When I asked businesses to donate, I only had to ask once and people were quick to give.”
An important element for the playground is a visible sponsorship sign that is expected to be added soon.
“A lot of people are donating in memory of someone and that’s going to be ongoing. People are doing it for their parents or grandparents who once lived here,” Hairston said. “We want the kids to see and know there are people who care about them and have invested in a safe place for them to play and grow up.”
“I can’t say thank you enough to the businesses and individuals who have reached out and been a part of this,” Hairston added.
Local business sponsorships include: Z Smith Reynolds Foundation, Duke Energy, Highland, Stormie Speaks Insurance, Hedgecock Builders Supply, Germantown Mercantile, KaBoom, Danbury General Store, South Stokes High School Class of 1978, Olympic Family Restaurant, Beannerson’s Auto Carrier, Randy’s Custom Lettering, Country Korner, Cove Grill, Rutledge & Rutledge Law Firm, Campbell’s Automotive, Hicks Pharmacy, Family Pharmacy, New London PPB Church, St. Mary’s United Methodist Church, Main Street Dinner, Tuttle Hardware, Drive Educational System, Hairston Family Reunion, Walnut Cove Food Mart and Walnut Cove Citco.
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.