The event is slated for Monday, Jan. 9 at the Red Caboose, 210 Fulton Road. In order to not exceed the restaurant’s capacity, Diablo Vista supporters are asked to dine between 5 and 7 p.m.; Lone Tree from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children 3 and younger. Students who attend wearing school clothing receive a free raffle ticket for prizes.
Play structures and trash cans were set aflame in October on playgrounds at Lone Tree Elementary and Diablo Vista Elementary. The vandalism at Lone Tree – including a fire that completely melted a slide – caused about $100,000 of repairs, according to parent Patty Ward. According to Antioch Unified School District Board Member Walter Ruehlig, Diablo Vista was hit twice by vandals that month, totaling roughly $70,000 in damages.
“When you have to pay for vandalism, that really hurts,” Ruehlig said. “That’s money that could be going to a much better cause than repairing the foolishness that someone else has done.”
Ruehlig said the playground at Diablo Vista will feature improved security measures such as sound sensors. Repairs to the playgrounds of both schools should be finished by the time students return from winter break. Diablo Vista is in the process of repairing its kitchen, which was also struck by arsonists. One of Diablo Vista’s buildings was tagged with graffiti.
Though the playgrounds were insured and are in the process of being repaired, Take Back Antioch (TBA) founder Brittney Gougeon wants to help deter future criminal activity in those areas. The group has organized a spaghetti feed and silent auction to pay for security enhancements such as floodlights and security cameras.
Money raised that evening will be evenly distributed to the two schools.
“I think it’s a great morale boost for the community in general,” Gougeon said. “It’s hopefully going to lift the spirits of people in Antioch. People actually care and they’re proposing solutions.”
Throughout the year, TBA had been working with Red Caboose owner Sheila White to hold a dinner fundraiser – but they weren’t sure for what cause. When word spread on TBA’s Facebook page, Gougeon and White felt that the schools would be worthy recipients.
Ward, a mother of two Lone Tree students, was alarmed when she heard of the damage. She posted photos to the group’s Facebook page showing the widespread arson at the school, including charred plants and a melted slide. Ward has served as the liaison between Lone Tree and TBA during the organization of the spaghetti feed.
“The first time was shocking enough, and then for it to happen again, it started to feel really scary,” Ward said. “There has been such an outpouring of empathy and support from people who don’t have any family associated with the school. The school is part of the community and we can all work together toward this. It’s a very comforting feeling.”
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