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Pay It Forward: YMCA Playground Upgrade

YMCA Idaho Falls playground
Todd Kunz
The YMCA playground in Idaho Falls
YMCA Idaho Falls
Todd Kunz
Idaho Falls YMCA

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KXPI) - A local playground is set for a makeover, with your help. And a new addition will come to it. Eyewitness News 3 and Fox 5 East Idaho decided it's time to Pay It Forward.

"Take a look at this playground. It needs a little updating. It is home to hundreds of kids throughout the community," said news anchor Todd Kunz, walking around the playground.

"Right now, we are about 80 to 85 students, which is toddlers through sixth grade. And then we have an LIT (Leader in Training) program during the summer months for middle school students," said Donovan Stokes, director of the Learning Center Child Care at the YMCA in Idaho Falls.

That's a lot of young people that use this facility and the playground has seen it's years. His goal to update the playground started as a casual conversation among friends at the first of the year.

"And ever since then, we just kind of hit the ground running with getting support and getting donations and putting together activities to start fundraising," said Stokes.

The goal is $85,000. That might seem like a lot, but besides updating the old playground, there would be a new addition across the street.

"The YMCA owns the property right across the street on Walnut Street and so that area will become the outdoor basketball court," said Stokes.

Stokes said they will assess where they stand with funding in late July and hopefully break ground in August. If money is still lacking, they will keep fundraising. He said the community has really gotten behind the idea.

"Has been tremendous," said Stokes.

He said businesses and individuals have donated already, even people approaching him in the grocery store wanting to donate.

For now, they have teamed up with an area real estate business and a local contractor that will come and lay the ground work for the new playground when that time comes.

So we wanted to team up with him and Pay It Forward.

"We have just been working and trying to get everything done, and uh…," said Stokes, as a man approaches from the playground gate.

"Donovan, how are you?" said the man.

"I'm doing great. How are you?" said Stokes.

"Good. My name is Kory (Carling) and I'm with Mountain America Credit Union."

"Yes," replied Stokes.

"And we've heard about you're trying to do to improve the services here at the YMCA," said Carling.

"Yes," said Stokes.

"And we're here to Pay It Forward," said Carling.

"Ohhh," said Stokes.

"So we have brought with us today $500," said Carling, pulling cash from a blue and white envelope and handing it over.

"Oh thank you," said Stokes, taking the cash.

"We know you can use to continue to improve the services and amenities here at the YMCA for our community," said Carling.

"Yes," said Stokes.

"And so on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union, we'd like to Pay It Forward," said Carling.

"Ah. Thank you so much!" said Stokes.

"To you and all that you do," said Carling.

"Thank you! And please tell Mountain America Credit Union thank you so much and definitely we will put this to great use. This is a wonderful surprise," said Stokes.

"Awesome," said Carling.

"Thank you so much," said Stokes.

Watch for spring and summer fundraisers events coming from the YMCA. You can donate on the YMCA homepage. Click on the big read "Donate Now" button on the homepage and make sure to choose "playground" under the campaign drop-down selection.

"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "News" then "Pay It Forward" under the menu stack at the top left of our homepage. Fill out the submission form, or send an email to Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at

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Todd Kunz

Todd is an anchor for Local News 8.


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