New Orleans children are receiving a new playground in Eastshore Park as part of a donation from CITGO Petroleum Corporation to KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to bringing balanced and active play into the daily lives of all kids. Nearly 100 volunteers from theNew Orleans community and the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) are gathering to construct this playground – taking part in equipment assembly, painting, carpentry, gardening and more – two days before the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
"As a long-standing member of the Gulf Coast community with refineries in Lake Charles, Louisiana and Corpus Christi, Texas, CITGO is heavily invested in helping people throughout the area," said CITGO President and CEO Nelson P. Martinez. "While building this playground is an example of our commitment to the Gulf, it serves a far greater purpose of improving the lives of local children and letting them experience a childhood full of play and fun. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina tore apart many of the areas in New Orleans where children learned and played, and these are some of the last places to be rebuilt. We thank Mayor Mitch Landrieu for bringing this issue to our attention and for offering us the opportunity to participate in this project with an organization like KaBOOM! that can give children a place to be themselves again."
This project with KaBOOM! is just one example of the ongoing efforts of CITGO to help Louisiana and the surrounding region since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit 10 years ago. Last year, CITGO kicked off its Caring for Our Coast initiative, a series of programs and projects to boost coastal and wetlands conservation and restoration, as well as science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) education efforts, along the Gulf Coast. In 2015 alone, CITGO has committed resources for projects designed to involve more than 2,500 volunteers donating 12,000 hours to restore nearly 4,000 acres in the Gulf region. As part of these projects, volunteers will plant thousands of grass plugs and trees to help restore natural ecosystems and critical wildlife habitats. Through Caring for Our Coast and partnerships with local organizations, CITGO is a committed community partner throughout the Gulf Coast area.
The playground that CITGO volunteers will be helping to construct is part of the KaBOOM! Operation Playground initiative, launched after Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild playspaces and childhoods. Through Operation Playground, KaBOOM! has channeled more than $27 million and mobilized more than 43,000 volunteers in the Gulf Coast region to build playgrounds. KaBOOM!, alongside tens of thousands of volunteers, has built over 194 playgrounds in the Gulf Coast, serving more than 293,000 children. More than 80 percent of the children served by KaBOOM! are growing up in poverty, and Operation Playground's work allows these children to have the playtime they need, especially those children affected by stress caused by Hurricane Katrina.
"The playground we're building today, which is based on children's drawings, will bring more than 1,200 kids inNew Orleans one step closer to having the play-filled childhoods they deserve," said Kristin Karsh, senior project manager with KaBOOM!. "We're proud to partner with a corporation like CITGO that understands the importance of bringing play to all kids."
For more information about Operation Playground's efforts in the Gulf Coast area, visit http://kaboom.org/operation_playground.
For more information about CITGO and its conservation and restoration efforts in the Gulf Coast, visit http://citgocaringforourcoast.com/.