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Reading man heads effort to fix broken playground

By himself in the hot sun, William Johnson breathes new life into one of Reading's dilapidated parks.

"This is where I'd take my grandkids when they were babies," said Johnson, who's fixing up Sixth and Amity Playground. "Now they're 15 years old.

"It started falling apart," he said. "That's why I'm here now."

The playground has rusted, outdated equipment, and some parts are eyesores. Johnson, known for being an avid volunteer, has lived in the neighborhood for many years.

"By me living in the neighborhood, I want to fix it up and bring it back, because that's who I am," he said.

By and large, the work is done by Johnson alone, but he's not alone when it comes to generosity. He's had help stocking up the park's pavilion house.

The Habitat for Humanity Restore on Fifth Street Highway in Muhlenberg Township donated a new toilet, and the Hope Rescue Mission on North Sixth Street in Reading donated a new refrigerator. Johnson captured these moments on Facebook Live, so eager to share the involvement of others.

"People are chipping in," he said. "All I had to do was ask."

That's not all. Since Johnson is a security guard at the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing, the mall has agreed to collect the change from the fountains and donate it to the cause.

Johnson said he's hoping to finish the project in a month, with the addition of a small mural. That's when the neighborhood kids will, presumably, dub him a hero.

"I don't think of myself as a hero," said Johnson. "I just want to be a nice guy."


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