An East Texas school received a big surprise Wednesday morning.
Back in November, KLTV first told you about Arp Elementary School entering an online contest to win a grant for a new playground. Lots of East Texans voted in the contest, elevating Arp to number 3, but they still came up short.
Last week, KLTV ran a story about the school's loss, a story American State Bank said they were touched by.
"We saw it and we were kind of heart broken at the fact that you know, the children really didn't have a place to play," said Brandon Steele, a chairman with American State Bank.
Arp Elementary School's principal, Wendy Popescue said the school used to have a playground.
"When we built our gym, which is beautiful and we love it, they had to take the equipment down and it got destroyed. They tried to salvage it, but it wasn't repairable" said Popescu.
Since the children do not have a playground, the school has provided balls, hoolahoops and jump ropes for the children to play with.
"They play in the dirt. We do have a woods out back and they go and make forts and stuff, which is really good for them, really creative. They've had no playground to play on; no swings, no slides, no rock climbing, nothing. Just dirt," Popescue said.
Popescue said the PTO has been working for years to raise the funds for the playground.
"We are an awesome school, but the academics always comes first and so the playground has always been put on the back burner," Popescue explained.
Steele said when he heard even more of the story, he just knew he had to help.
"You know, the heritage of our bank, it was founded in Arp, Texas 101 years ago. These people here, the parents of these children, they're our bank, they're our community, they're our customers," Steele said.
"We just decided to go ahead and the bank make a donation and Andy and I make a donation to make sure that these sweet kids had a good, safe place to play and really to thank our customers for 101 years of taking care of us. It's the least thing we could do as a community bank," Steel said.
The donations total $50,000.
Patricia Parnell is a teacher at Arp and has been working with the PTO to win the school a playground. On Wednesday, she worked with the bank to surprise the students with the news at a school assembly.
"There's no words to describe what we saw with our kids today, really, no words," Parnell said.
"I'm really, really excited. All my friends are probably going to be talking about it for the rest of the day," said fourth-grader Macy Maxwell.
Parnell said they will still be at Mooyah Burger in Tyler on Tuesday, January 29 between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Mooyah Burger has agreed to donate a portion of their sales between those hours to help Arp with the funds to prepare the property for their new playground.
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