In 1946, when Philadelphia educators Margaret Rosell Hawkins and Sarah Strickland Scott cofounded the Links, Inc. — their vision for an intercity volunteer service organization for professional women of African descent — they did so with the help of just seven friends.

Today, the Links has grown to more than 16,000 members (including Vice President Kamala Harris) in 292 chapters across the country, the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom, who log more than one million hours a year in service to their communities and to ensure the cultural and economic survival of African Americans and others of African ancestry.

On Sunday, as part of the organization’s 75th Diamond Jubilee, members of the Links, which is now headquartered in Washington, returned to Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse in East Fairmount Park to make a $25,000 donation to the place where their founders were first called to serve.

Links national president Kimberly Jeffries Leonard called the donation “a full circle moment.”

“It just really is reflective of the fact that their vision is realized,” she said. “They could have probably never imagined what this organization would have grown to, that their club around the kitchen table and the expansion of that chain of friendship would now be 16,000 members.”

Known best for its 44-foot giant wooden slide, Smith Playground opened in 1899 and was racially integrated from its beginning, said the playground’s executive director, Frances Hoover. In 1947, The Links’ first service project was a picnic for 50 to 100 underserved children at the playground.

“This is a very, very meaningful gift for our institution ... and we are extremely honored to be connected with a prestigious organization like the Links,” Hoover said. “For many kids living in our adjacent neighborhoods, Smith is their Disney World.”

To prove her point, following the ceremony, Hoover took the oversized donation check for a ride down the giant wooden slide with Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr.

Steven Mullen, 47, who’s been coming to the playground since the third grade and brought his grandkids on Sunday, was thrilled to see Hoover slide down with the check and learn of the donation.

”I love this place. This playground is like one of the heartbeats of Philadelphia,” he said. “It truly is.”

Many of the Links’ members from Philadelphia at the ceremony, including past Philadelphia chapter president Sherilynn Kimble, said they grew up coming to Smith Playground and have fond memories of the slide.

“This is one of my most favorite places in Philadelphia. If you grew up in Philadelphia you came to Smith Playground on a field trip,” Kimble said. “You find your inner child here. It is truly an example of what play should look like.”

Gina Golson Nunery, current president of the Philadelphia chapter, said the for the national organization to contribute to the place in Philadelphia where the group started was “really touching.”

“It signifies the importance of Philadelphia in the organization and as the founding chapter,” she said.

Later on Sunday, the Links’ legacy was honored when the Delaware River Port Authority changed the lights on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to green and white, in honor of the organization’s colors. And when the lights go green and white on Boathouse Row on Tuesday, it won’t be for the Eagles, but for the Links. The crown lights on the Peco building will also display a message in honor of the Links’ 75th anniversary Tuesday through Thursday.

Despite its growth, at its core the Links is still what it was when it was founded by two visionary Philadelphia women — an organization of professional women of African descent who are linked by friendship and a desire to serve their communities.

“A lot of the issues they faced then we’re still facing now. As their vision continues, the mission continues, too,” Jeffries Leonard said. “And the fight continues and the reason — the raison d’être — for the Links Inc. is still here and we have work to do. We owe that to them.”