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McKinley Park fire: How you can help the effort to rebuild

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It takes a village to raise a child, the saying goes, and in Sacramento it often takes a community to build – and rebuild – the parks and playgrounds children love so much.

Residents of East Sacramento and other nearby neighborhoods were left reeling after an early morning fire destroyed much of the children’s playground in McKinley Park, one of the city’s most popular parks. Now, neighbors, families, community leaders and local businesses are pulling together to recover from the loss – and you can help.

City Councilman Steve Cohn, who represents the district where McKinley Park is located, established a “Gifts to Share” account through the city of Sacramento dedicated to the McKinley Park playground rebuild. Anyone can send tax-deductible donations through GTS, and the money is held in an account exclusively for the McKinley Park project. Donations can be made by check, payable to "Gifts to Share/McKinley Playground," and mailed to City Councilman Steve Cohn at City Hall, 915 I Street, 5th floor, Sacramento, CA 95814. More information can be found on the city’s website or by calling Cohn’s City Hall office at 808-7003.

[Note: Cohn will participate in a Sac Press Live chat Wednesday at noon with our readers]

Other local organizations that are accepting donations to add to the rebuilding effort include the Friends of East Sacramento, which regularly hosts volunteer days to clean up the park. The group announced on its Facebook page that they are extending their volunteer efforts for the rebuild of the playground. Information is available via email at friendsofeastsac@aol.com or, to make a tax deductible donation via PayPal go to friendsofeastsac.org.

Another group that has stepped up to help is the Friends of Bertha Henschel Park, an organization associated with another nearby East Sacramento city park. To help, contact Friends of Bertha Henschel at BerthaHenschel@gmail.com

A new community organization, East Sac Give Back, has also established a method for donors to contribute to the rebuild effort. The group immediately started raising money when the news of the fire broke, and CEO Michael Saeltzer reports they have raised $2,100 so far.

Anyone interested in making a donation to the park rebuild through East Sac Give Back can do it through their GoFundMe website.The group’s application for tax-exempt status is still pending.

Cohn said he has been impressed by the outpouring of community support even at this early stage.

“I’m hearing from people from all over the city and even from outside Sacramento,” Cohn said Monday. “This playground has affected so many people’s lives over the past 20 years. Everyone is rallying to do a rebuild.”

Cohn said donations to help get the playground rebuilt have varied from a $5,000 commitment from State Sen. Darrell Steinberg to the jingling coins in a piggy bank, offered to Cohn at his doorstep by a 7-year-old neighbor over the weekend.

“That’s the thing about McKinley Park,” Cohn said. “It is a community park with a neighborhood feeling and it means a lot to all of us.”

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

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