Youth organization celebrates opening of new playground after yearlong fundraising campaign
IDAHO FALLS — After an outpouring of community support, a new Idaho Falls YMCA playground is a reality.
The Y formerly used a decades-old playground for its youth and children programs before Idaho Falls YMCA Interim CEO Donovan Stokes had an idea. Last year, Stokes began a mission going around the community to raise nearly $140,000 and build a new playground in memory of Christina Anderson, a local single mother who supported the organization.
“I realized miracles do happen because I had no idea what I was doing,” Stokes said. “All I knew was to walk around with donation boxes and throw some events … I began to see strangers become a family and say ‘I don’t know you, you don’t know me, but let’s link arms and help get this playground done.'”
As the Y ceremoniously opened the snow-covered playground Friday afternoon, the event centered around Anderson, who passed away in 2019 after a battle with cancer. People remembered Anderson’s willingness always to help the Y, where she enrolled her two daughters in the year up to her passing.
Anderson’s daughters cut the yellow ribbon as community members, donors and the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce clapped in celebration.
“She always had a smile on her face,” Stokes said. “One of the things that kept me going is seeing her face and said if she can do what she was going through and still be positive, that was a motivation that I need to keep moving … I can hear her say ‘go after it.'”
Stokes explained so many helped build the playground, including a man who appeared homeless. As Stokes campaigned on the streets of Idaho Falls to raise funds, the man remembered being served by the YMCA as a child, which provided a safe place for him to play.
The man ultimately gave his only dollar over to Stokes which in turn helped complete the playground.
“I still have a ways to go because I still have to do some landscaping, some painting stuff like that,” Stokes said. “If you’re out there and you have some extra dollars and you would like to help the YMCA, every dollar helps. We are just trying to continue this program in this great community and do even bigger and better things.”
Anyone interested in donating to the Idaho Falls Y or learning more about their programs can visit their website.