Mark's Pizzeria makes a major donation to help install the basketball court, which will be named the Jim McGinnis Court, to complete the new gym and honor Mr. McGinnnis's 40 years service to the Palmyra Community Center and the youth of the community.
Mark’s Pizzeria made a major donation on Friday to the Palmyra Community Center that helped to fund the completion of the new gym basketball court at the facility.
Mark Crane, owner of Mark’s Pizzeria, presented a check to assistant director of the Center, Jim McGinnis, at Mark’s Pizzeria Corporate Headquarters on Rt. 31.
“Mark and Jim have this relationship of about 30 years,” said Palmyra Community Center Director Billy Campbell. “Mark started out selling pizzas in a small room, and Jim would frequent there and they developed a very special bond and friendship.
“Mark has always been very supportive of the Community Center. He realizes how important Jim has been to the kids of Palmyra and all that he’s done. Mark, and many others, have always done what they can to help us out up here.”
The donation helped spur many gifts as Joe Keller and John Van Parys headed a committee to raise funds to complete the project.
“I went and talked with Mark and said, ‘We’re going to do something for Jim,’ and he said, ‘All right, lets just get it done,’ and we took it from there,” said Keller. “I just mentioned the name Jim McGinnis, and the donations began pouring in. People realize what Jim has meant to the community and wanted to help out.
“Jim was definitely the marketing tool that I used.”
The gym was built about five years ago, however, the floor was still concrete.
“We used it for activities, but were limited because of the concrete floor,” Campbell said.
“We also have adult exercise classes, lacrosse, soccer, and other sports activities that the two gyms are used for.”
The new gym, however, could not be used for basketball, as is the gym on the other side of the building, without the hardwood floor, padding on the walls, and baskets.
“I was speaking with Jim recently when he said how great it would be once they get the hardwood floor done,” Keller said when asked how he got the fund-raising going. “John and I spoke with Mark and said ‘Let’s see if we can get this thing done.’”
And done it was as the committee raised over $90,000 in less than two weeks.
“Jim McGinnis’s name was the selling point,” Campbell said. “Without using his name we couldn’t have done it so quickly.
“Everybody who gave, whether it was of their time and effort, or funds, appreciates how much Jim has done for the Center, how much he means to the kids, and continues to mean to the kids, and that was the selling tool that put us over the top.”
Keller added, “Mark’s check was a big boost. He has been very generous in supporting the Palmyra community.”
Page 2 of 2 - The court in the new gym will be named Jim McGinnis Court, to honor his 40 years service to the youth of Palmyra.
“I went to this one gentleman, and he said, ‘Times are tough,’” Keller related of a particular visit. “He asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I said that we’re going to dedicate the court to Jim McGinnis. He said, “Jim has been there forever, I went to school with him. I’ll give you $5000.’
“We went from zero to $5000 in a matter of two seconds. And that’s how a lot of it (fund raising) went with people giving something.”
The main part of the funds are being used to install the hardwood court, baskets, wall padding, and bleachers, according to Campbell.
“The remainder of the funds will be used for what the donors want it to be used for,” Campbell said. “They will NOT be used to pay any bills, such as electricity.”
The original building was constructed in 1979, and has been added on to at various times over the years as the needs have grown. Funding for the construction was accomplished through local residents’ donations, various Foundation grants, and government funding.
“Our programs go from as young as elementary school kids all the way to senior citizens,” said Campbell. “We have 30 to 35 programs that encompass all those age groups.”
Other potential projects down the road include outside lights for the parking lot, and upgrades to some of the existing building as it parts of it are 30 years old.
“There are always ongoing projects,” Campbell said. “They just don’t get funded as quickly,” he added with a laugh.
The floor pieces arrived ahead of schedule, but other necessary work was completed by volunteers so that the job to manually lay down the floor could be started on Friday, Dec. 30.
“We hope to be able to get on it in four or five weeks,” said Campbell. “It all has to be put down by hand.”
The Center also has a game room. Many civic organizations use the center for meetings and other activities.
“Most of the time we let them have it (use of the facility), to help them out because a lot of them are in the same situation - not for profit,” said Campbell. “We’re just trying to help people, so our part in doing that is just giving them space.”
Behind the Center there is a playground under construction, paid for by memorial donations.
The Center also constructed a backstop there, again through memorial donations.
“We have some other projects that are going to be done through memorial donations,” said Campbell. “We’re very fortunate that people think of us during that time.”