Kiwanis volunteers roll up sleeves, clean waterlogged playground

Published 12:30 am Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Waltersville Estates playground got a good cleaning Saturday morning as volunteers spruced up the area that had been covered in floodwater for weeks.

The effort was spearheaded by Vicksburg Kiwanis, a civic club that focuses on helping children and the community. About a dozen volunteers showed up to clean the 10,000-square-foot playground that took on water as the Mississippi River at Vicksburg swelled.

The record-breaking flood saw a May 19 crest of 57.1 feet, 14.1 feet above flood stage. Around 3,200 people were forced from their homes and businesses, and at least $1.15 million in federal disaster aid has been paid to individuals.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“We really wanted to do something for someone who was affected, but didn’t have the funds to repair what was affected,” said Kiwanis president-elect Ryan Lee. “We’ve done playground rehab before at Good Shepherd (Community Center), so it’s something we’re familiar with.”

Kiwanis members contacted the United Way of West Central Mississippi, and the playground at the Waltersville, one of six Vicksburg Housing Authority subdivisions, was recommended.

“It is helpful to us for them to clean that playground,” said Dannie Walker, the VHA’s executive director. “It is a big part of the subdivision.”

The playground, built in the early 1980s when the subdivision was erected, is used by nearly 200 children, Walker said.

Kiwanis International Foundation awarded the Vicksburg club $5,000 for the project, and the Kiwanis District Foundation gave $725 for new playground equipment, Lee said.

Businesses also got in on the project.

Walmart donated a $100 gift card to purchase cleaning supplies, and River Region Health System donated $100 in water for volunteers. Anderson-Tully Co. provided mulch.

The Vicksburg Fire Department assisted in spraying off bleach that was applied to playground equipment.

Kiwanis members Martin Chaney, Jim Chaney and David Hosemann donated their tractors and their time.

“We’re just trying to help out the community, to try to make things nicer for these people who have suffered,” Martin Chaney said. “The kids need a place to play that is safe — and that’s the biggest thing.”

Members of the Vicksburg High School Key Club, the teen branch of Kiwanis, also assisted.

“I feel like I’m helping out somebody, so that’s always a good feeling,” “said Dianna Kariuki, 16, the daughter of Benson and Cheryl Kariuki.

Former Key Club member and VHS graduate SheAmbree James, 18, brought her mother, Jean, along.

“I love helping others,” said SheAmbree, also the daughter of William James. “It’s a big help because I know not everyone would want to do this.”

Edward Wong, a history teacher and sponsor of the VHS Key Club, also put on his work gloves.

“Vicksburg Kiwanis is the parent club of the Vicksburg High School Key Club, and they invite our kids to lunch every week — and they give scholarships,” Wong said. “If they can do that for my kids, I can do this for them and for the community.”