COLP — In spite of the current national climate of racial unrest, the residents of Colp and Number Nine have found a reason to work together. They want a playground for their children.

“It may not be unique, but is rare to see a community come together — black and white — for their kids,” Tom Calvert said.

And they have come together. Neither community has a park or playground, so the playground committee of Colp and Number Nine was created. It has secured a location for the park near the water tower in Colp. Mary Ann Duncan said the location was within walking distance of both communities. They also created a $75,000 budget for the project, which will get the surface laid and purchase basic playground equipment.

In February, a letter was sent to the Julia Bruce Foundation in Herrin asking for help with “a cooperative effort to construct and maintain a community park.”

The foundation replied with a donation of $16,819. William D. Perkins, a member of the committee, said the donation really helped people know the project was legitimate and a serious effort was being made to construct the park.

Then the committee got an offer from Auffenberg of Carbondale. The dealership would provide a car to raffle at a considerable discount. The committee is selling chances on a 2016 Buick Verano. Tickets are $50 each, and 400 tickets must be sold before names will be drawn for a winner.

The drawing will take place during an event from 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 3 at Auffenberg of Carbondale. The event will include free food, drinks and entertainment. The drawing will be at 4 p.m.

For State Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, providing a playground for the children of Colp and Number Nine is about equally sharing the resources of the state.

“We want our kids to have the same as everybody else. We need our fair share,” Forby said.

He made a promise to the residents and the playground committee. “I’m going to do my best to help you,” he said.

State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, is also helping with the project. Friends of John Bradley donated the cost of fencing to surround the park.

“We’re committed to the communities of Southern Illinois,” Bradley said.

Committee member Marcella Clark said they are trying to raise as much money as possible. The more money raised, the more equipment they can purchase.

“We’re covering all our bases,” she said.

Duncan said a playground provides so much more than a place to play. It also provides physical, spiritual and emotional growth, as well as learning social skills.

Read more: