Beyond the confines of a brick wall outside The Salvation Army’s Ruth Lilly Shelter for Women and Children, youngsters screamed and giggled.

They chased one another through the mulch covered playground, only stopping to climb or bounce on the obstacles that happened to land in their path.

It’s a sight that may not have brought on quite as many smiles a few months ago.

The shelter, located downtown in the Block of Hope, cared for more than 1,900 homeless and abused women and children last year.  A small courtyard area outside the shelter housed a deteriorating playground for the children staying there.

That is until Jim Brantley received a phone call asking for contacts.

“What do you need?” he asked.

The answer —a new playground.

Brantley, owner of ValPak/Reach of Indianapolis and a member of the Advisory Board, has worked with the Salvation Army for eight years. When he’s not working or off on an adventure scaling some remote mountaintop, Brantley can be found immersed in the community helping it any way he can.

So when the shelter playground needed a facelift, Brantley stepped up to the plate and within months children were happily playing and swinging.

“The old playground was looking rough so we pulled together,” he said. “It’s so rewarding to see these kids playing and smiling.”

Brantley made sure there was a part of the playground for everyone from infant swings and springing cars to a modern teeter totter and rock climbing wall. He’s also committed to adding additional equipment and growing the playground in the future.

“It took a few months, but I’m glad we could do it,” he said.

In 2011, Marion County Schools reported that they were serving 2,925 children who did not have homes of their own. This was in addition to the 248 children who were homeless and living in shelters. The Salvation Army meets the needs of homeless children and their families every day. Find out how you can help by contacting Holly Moore at 317-224-1067.