At St. Anthony’s Parish School in Long Beach, students have been asking God to help them raise enough money for a new playground, and now, their prayers have been heard.

On April 29, the school will dedicate their new play space, which includes a swing set, asphalt resurfacing, and brand new water bottle filling stations, thanks to extensive fundraising and a generous gift from the Shea Family Foundation.

While St. Anthony’s excels in academics, faith, and service, its outdoor play area was severely lacking. The asphalt was filled with cracks and potholes, the “grass” field was mostly a dirt patch, and students shuffled between hula hoops and jump ropes with little other options. For years, the community dreamed of building a playground. “We knew our students and parish community would benefit from a playground,” said Allison Kargas, the school principal. “It’s important for children to have opportunities to play and engage in physical activity, they just don’t get enough of it at home.”

Despite overwhelming support, the high costs for installation put the idea out of reach for many years. When the Shea Family Foundation offered to take on the project, the school jumped at the chance. They were asked to raise $23,000 to put towards the project, which initially seemed daunting, but the goal brought the entire school and parish community together. “It’s been incredible to see the outpouring of support,” Kargas said. “We have parishioners giving us incredibly generous gifts, students have brought in loose change, and parents and family members have offered monetary support. It’s been a true community project.”

The Long Beach community is invited to celebrate the fruits of their efforts at the Playground Dedication Party on the 29th, at 8 a.m. To learn more, contact Allison Kargas, principal, at 562-432-5946 or email [email protected].