Niles church unveils new community playground

Published 9:59 am Thursday, April 28, 2022

NILES — A local church’s fundraising efforts have created a space for the children to enjoy.

Community Evangelical Free Church, 120 E. Bertrand Road, recently unveiled its completed community playground project.

The fenced-in playground features slides, games, a picnic table and other fun activities appropriate for children ages 2-12. Betsy Hickok and Andrea Winfield, co-directors of the church’s children’s ministry, are happy to see the project completed.

“I’ve been praying for this for seven years,” Hickok said. “We actually had an older playground that just was not a safe option for the children and we knew that we wanted something welcoming for the front of the building.”

The church began fundraising for the playground in March 2021. Thanks to the efforts of Hickok, Winfield and the CEFC community, more than $20,000 was raised to purchase playground equipment two weeks ago. Once the equipment was delivered, members of the congregation volunteered to help install it in time for Easter weekend with the help of the Lowe’s Heroes program, which provides skilled volunteers to assist with community projects.

In addition to providing an updated and safer playground for church congregants, Hickok and Winfield hope to see the park enjoyed by the greater community. While Winfield said there are other parks nearby, many neighborhood children might have to walk a long distance or cross busy streets to access them.

“The kids really enjoy being out here,” Hickok said. “Ever since we put it in, we’ve had multiple families come over and use it, so it’s really great. We wanted to do this as not something just for our church but something for the whole community.”

The church hopes to put the playground to good use as it hosts its rummage sale this weekend. The sale will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.