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their young children to play,” he says. “And visitors will see that Thomas is a great place to raise a family. “Not only that,” he adds, “kids now-


adays are so drawn to television and video games; this playground will en- courage them to get outside and get active.”


In addition to giving the children of Thomas a place to play, Jackson be- lieves a new playground will also help spruce up Thomas’s downtown area. “The old playground has served its duty,” he says. “It’s time for an upgrade.”


The new playground will be built right next to the community swim- ming pool. It will include slides, climbing areas, a swing set with eight swings, monkey bars, spring animals and more.


Thomas, Okla., hosts an annual 5K event and other fundraising efforts to benefi t the community. This year’s funds will go toward a new playground. Courtesy photo


“The goal is to have the playground completed by


the fi rst of this summer,” Mannering says. So far this year through various fundraising ef- forts, the Thomas community has raised $40,000 for Project Playground, already well over half of their $53,000 goal.


$650


Upcoming Fundraising events include “An Evening in the Park,” held May 13, and the 5K run and 1-mile fun run/walk, held May 14—both events at Sewell Park. The fundraising committee hopes to reach the rest of their monetary goal by the end of the 5K run.


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“An Evening in the Park” will begin at 6:30, and din- ner will be provided by the Magill Agency of Weath- erford. Live music will feature Green Corn Revival. “A lot of people came by the evening before the run last year to pick up registration packets,” Mannering says. “So this year, we thought we’d make an event of it, providing dinner and live music. “It will be a lot of fun,” she adds.


Not only are these fundraisers and community- enhancement projects fun for the people of Thomas, but they also play a huge role in bringing everyone together.


“We have such an awesome communi- ty,” Mannering says. “This is something our town gets behind and is excited about, and it takes the whole town to pull it off.”


All local businesses contribute, either by sponsoring the run or donating food, goodie bags and bottles of water. Last year, roughly 50 volunteers helped with the run by handing out water bottles, selling merchandise and registering the runners. “We’re looking for just as many vol- unteers this year,” Mannering adds. To volunteer, you can sign up at the Thomas city offi ce, or send an email to Thomas5Krun@gmail.com.


To register for the 5K run or the 1-mile walk, visit www.signmeup.com, then “Find an Event,” and search for “Thom- as” in “Oklahoma.” Runners may sign up until the day of the run. Registration is $30 for the run and $20 for the walk. Registration for the 5K will begin at 7 a.m., and the run will begin at 9 a.m. Then at 10:30 a.m., the 1-mile fun walk will begin. Events will be held at Sewell Park, right in the heart of Thomas.


As for next year’s project, plans have yet to be determined.


“But just as long as people keep supporting the effort, we’ll keep doing it,” Mannering says. “We hope this tradition will continue for years to come.” OL


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