Originally Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012, 8:38 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 13, 2012, 10:23 pm

Moline's Riverside Park receives donation from 6-year old girl, father

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By Dawn Neuses, dneuses@qconline.com

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Photo: Paul Colletti
Jeff Gerstel and his six-year-old daughter Samatha, gave Moline Community Development Corporation member Ald. Lori Turner, 5th Ward, a $50 check Monday, Nov. 12, toward the $65,000 needed for new playground equipment, ground surfacing and installation at Riverside Park. Mr. Gerstel is a senior account executive from Ascentra Credit Union. The company offered each employee $50 to donate to a cause of their choice. His daughter suggested the money to go to a park. Donations are still needed for the playground.

A 6-year-old Colona girl and her father have donated $50 to a new playground at Moline's Riverside Park.

Including the check Samantha Gersteland her father, Jeff Gerstel, gave the Moline Community Development Corporation on Monday, $2,000 has been raised for equipment, ground surfacing and installation of equipment at the park. Another $65,000 still is needed.

"We are still in need of grants or corporate sponsors," said Ald. Lori Turner, 5th Ward, a member of the Community Development Corp.

The playground at Riverside was removed in 2010 because of safety concerns. Afterward, Friends of Riverside approached Ald. Turner about the lack of playground equipment.

The Moline CDC joined with Friends of Riverside Park, and the park and recreation department, in 2011 to plan a firetruck-themed playground and launch fundraising.

"We do have a few swings, but overall, the park needs some TLC," Ald. Turner said, adding that the new playground can't be installed until the money is raised.

Mr. Gerstel, a senior account officer with Ascentra Credit Union, said Ascentra offered each employee $50 to donate to the cause of their choice.

He said he wanted to encourage his daughter to be a part of the community, so asked her opinion on where to donate the money."She wanted to donate to a park."

Mr. Gerstel said he did some research and learned about the funding needed for the Riverside playground.

He grew up in Moline and said he knows the park, and his family went to Riverside this summer. "We noticed the lack of playground equipment."

Samantha said she plays on equipment at school three times per day during recess, so has experience with playgrounds. "This was a good idea that came to me," she said.

Ald. Turner said the theme of the playground may be expanded to safety, with the play equipment encompassing all emergency issues, including police, EMS and 911.

"We look forward to seeing children playing on the new equipment," she said. "We greatly appreciate the support of Ascentra Credit Union."

Donations for the playground can be sent to Moline CDC, 1830 6th Ave., Moline, IL 61265. All donations are tax deductible and acknowledged with a receipt.

The Moline CDC is a 501(c) 3 organization organized to foster revitalization programs and projects, and improvements to Moline's low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.