Lambda Theta Phi builds playground in Trenton

By Miguel Gonzalez
Sports Editor

Smiling children at Foundation Academy Primary campus can now be found climbing the monkey bars, playing hide-and-go seek and chasing after one another.

Thanks to the generous efforts of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, students at the Foundation Academy Primary school have access to an updated playground, complete with a slide, jungle gym and monkey bars.

It all started out as a request from Alumna Cynthia Cardona (‘12). Cardona, a fourth grade math teacher at Foundation Academy Primary school in Trenton, asked the members of the College’s Lambda Theta Phi Latin fraternity to volunteer in the construction of the playground.

Fraternity members give back to the community. (Photo courtesy of Samuel Serrato)

Cardona — also the daughter of the fraternity’s founding father, Hiram Cardona — cares greatly about the community.

According to Samuel Serrato, a junior urban education and Spanish double major, working with Cardona was a great opportunity for students at the College.

“It was amazing to work with Cynthia Cardona,” he said. “She was so supportive of her community and to our mission of helping all who are in need.”

Erly Solis, a senior psychology major and the fraternity’s community service advisor, said the idea came about when Cardona asked her father for assistance in building an ergonomic playground at her school.

Hiram Cardona suggested his daughter reach out to Lambda Theta Pi’s regional administration to help assemble the playground.

“We were more than happy to not only assist with this building project, but to honor one of our founding fathers,” Solis said.

Foundation Academies, a charter school system, received grants from Bai and Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s initiative, “Let’s Play,” to build the playground. Nonprofits KaBOOM! and Good Sports also supported the project. 

“Although this chapter has never worked with the foundation before, it was a pleasure creating a relationship with them,” Solis said. 

After two days of preparation, more than 200 volunteers — among them, 16 Lambda Theta Phi members — began construction of the playground on Friday, Aug. 18.

Volunteers complete the playground in six hours. (Photo courtesy of Samuel Serrato)

The volunteers were able to complete the entire project in only six hours, working from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The playground opened for use by the following week. More than 200 students at Foundation Academy Primary campus can now enjoy the updated play area.

Solis immediately saw the playground’s impact on Foundation Academy students. 

“The project was very significant,” Solis said. “We recruited as many brothers as possible from our local TCNJ undergraduates, alumni chapters and other chapters in the area to take part in this worthy cause. The undergraduates strive to stay connected to our local community during the school year and also during the summer, and this was one of the main projects scheduled for this summer.”

Earlier this year, Lambda Theta Phi took part in a food drive to provide food for 19 families. The fraternity also participates in an annual day of giving to strengthen their relationship with the community.

“We do an annual Lambda Giving day where we select 10 families from the Trenton community and give them groceries,” Serrato said. “Lambda Theta Phi cares deeply about the community and will do anything to help out and uplift our community together.”