It will be a happy new year for students at one Richmond school. The playground at Woodville Elementary, which was suspiciously burned to the ground two days before the start of school, is now cleaned up and ready for kids.
For the first time this entire school year, kids will be able to play on the equipment and use the area when they get back from Christmas break.
This is especially important after a devastating scene started off the school year. Yellow caution tape shielded the fourth and fifth graders from the twisted metal and melted plastic of a burnt playground.
In the innocent eyes of nine-year-olds like Luiz DeJesus-Garcia, it was difficult to understand.
"I was very disappointed because all the kids they got to be bored, they got to be non-active because of the people who burnt it down," he recalled. "I don't know why they just don't want us to have fun or nothing."
There are people who do want these kids to have fun.
"We felt pretty much like little elves and Santas," John Difiglio with Turner Construction told us.
The company and contractors were already doing work in the city when they were contacted by Richmond Public Schools about the playground. It had been sitting in a melted mess since September 2nd.
"It was heartbreaking because we came during a day they were having recess and they were out on the playground out here just running around playing tag and couldn't use the facility," Difiglio said.
The companies donated almost $15,000 worth of time and supplies so it's no longer dangerous for the kids to play on what's left.
"We took away all the remaining burnt playground equipment," Difiglio added. "We removed all the burnt rubber surface that was there, did some grating and then we came in with some play mulch."
It's work that brings the playground back to life for kids who really need it.
"I would say thank you a lot, very much with all my heart," Luiz exclaimed.
Richmond Public Schools is working to get enough money to replace the damaged equipment.
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