Fundraiser helps replace playground equipment

Insurance is covering most of the costs following an arson at Swift Elementary in Abbotsford, but $10,000 is needed for the deductible

A suspected arson fire damaged playground equipment at Thomas Swift elementary in Abbotsford. The pole at the front of the photo previously supported a plastic climbing wall.

A suspected arson fire damaged playground equipment at Thomas Swift elementary in Abbotsford. The pole at the front of the photo previously supported a plastic climbing wall.

A fundraiser takes place Thursday, Aug. 9 to raise funds for the replacement of school playground equipment damaged in an arson last month.

The event takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. at Dr. Thomas A. Swift Elementary (34800 Mierau St.) and includes a barbecue meal by donation, a dunk tank, a bouncy castle, and games.

All proceeds go towards the $10,000 deductible that must be paid out on the insurance claim that will cover the replacement costs of the equipment.

Vandals set fire to the playground on July 15, destroying much of the equipment, which provided access to children in wheelchairs and with other physical challenges.

The Abbotsford school district submitted a claim via the Ministry or Education, and the playground suppliers, based in Europe, were contacted. Replacement and installation costs were estimated at $60,000.

Members of the Abbotsford Police Department organized a fundraising drive, and were joined by the Clearbrook and Abbotsford Kiwanis clubs, which were both involved with the original installation of the playground.

Local businesses throwing in their support were Thrifty Foods, the Esposito Group, Tim Hortons, PriceSmart and Innovative Fitness.

“This is a remarkable example of the community taking back something snatched away from them,” said John Sutherland, chairman of the Abbotsford board of education.

The equipment has been ordered, but is not expected to arrive until at least the week before school, if not later in September.