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Two sisters, mother lead fundraiser for Jefferson Elementary playground

Rick Wagner • Jun 17, 2020 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Jefferson Elementary School students and sisters Abigail and Brianna Coe are raising money for their school playground through a GoFundMe page created June 7.

The goal is $5,000, and as of Tuesday, the page showed $870 raised from 15 donors.

Adam and Serena Coe are the parents of rising second-grader Abigail Faith, who turns 7 Thursday, and rising first-grader Brianna Grace, 6. Coe said the project focuses on “what is truly important in life, helping others, doing good in the world and spreading love,” the latter of which she said is “our family motto.”

Andy True, assistant superintendent of schools for administration, said the fundraiser is independent of the school, the school system and the Jefferson Parent Teacher Organization.

“That is a family that has a desire to do something to benefit the school and is pursuing that on their own,” True said.

“This all originated from sibling rivalry,” Serena Coe said. “The girls were arguing over sharing/taking turns, which is typical for their ages, and the fact that they are almost 11 months apart. I finally said I just want you to love one another and be good to each other and do something good in the world.” 

She said the money raised may go to the PTO and be earmarked for the playground, and that Girls Scouts may become involved in the project work. She said she’s checked with a local dentists’ group about contributing, as well as with area painters and contractors to get cost estimates and possible donations of work and materials. She said the $5,000 is based on a rough estimate of the cost to replace swings, fix fencing and the paint needed at the playground.

Coe said she may end the GoFundMe page in July and hopes a playground face-lift can come quickly.

HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT?

“My oldest, Abigail, replied ‘Well, we could fix up the playground at school’ and her younger sister began to express excitement about her idea,” Serena Coe said. “I asked her how fixing up an old playground could help people, and she replied that when she went back to school she wanted to see something new and fun. I asked her if others would smile knowing a better playground was in their midst, trying to further reinforce character development. She said, ‘Yes, it would be good for all,’ which brought tears to my eyes.”

Asked about the fundraising, Abigail said, “My sister kind of joined in doing it with me. When I got back to school, I want to see something new and exciting.”

Brianna said, “I want to do it because it (the playground) is old, and I want to help it get new.”

Serena Coe said that with the months of COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing and “associated confinement (and) changes,” some students on Zoom said they missed their playground the most. She said her daughters “don’t understand how different it’s going to be going back to school” with the possibility of wearing masks, social distancing and other limits on human interactions.

“If they have a good idea, let’s go for it,” she said.

Serena Coe also lauded Principal Stephanie Potter for reaching out to students on social media and before school went online putting inspirational wall decals in the bathrooms to help lift spirits.

“She is trying really hard to make a positive difference. There is much love and care at the school via supportive staff and even Girl Scouts who are supporting their educational environment,” Serena Coe said.

As for the post-playground future, Coe said the sisters want to attend Emory & Henry College, with Abigail planning to become a gastroenterologist and Brianna planning to open a daycare and help the homeless.

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