Thanks to the generosity of Lakewood residents and businesses, over $10,000 was raised to refurbish the used playground equipment from Bolivar Park and transport it to the impoverished community of Matapalo, Costa Rica. The equipment will be installed in late June in the small Costa Rican community located inland of Playa Grande along the Pacific Coast. It will be the first public playground ever installed there.
“We want to give a big thank-you to all the Lakewood residents and businesses who contributed to this successful fundraising effort,” said Valarie Frost, the coordinator for the effort from the Rotary Club of Lakewood. “We received hundreds of donations, big and small, including from fundraising events held in restaurants, schools and private homes. It was a wonderful Lakewood community team effort, and 100% of funds raised are directly benefitting the project!”
The used play equipment was removed from Bolivar Park to make way for two new playgrounds that opened at the park in October 2016. There’s no market in the U.S. for used playground equipment, so large parts of the used Bolivar equipment would have simply been disposed of in a landfill.
“There had to be a way to repurpose the Bolivar equipment since it was still very usable,” said Frost. “So the Rotary Club of Lakewood decided to partner with the non-profit group Kids Around The World, which specializes in refurbishing and transporting used American play equipment to orphanages and impoverished communities around the world.
“We’ve seen in Lakewood how playgrounds are great for children, building creative minds, healthy bodies and smiling faces,” said Frost. “So we wanted to see if we could help spread that joy and that good feeling with this older but still usable Lakewood equipment.”
Frost and three other Lakewood community members will pay their own way to travel to Costa Rica in late June to help install the playground. They will leave behind a sign saying that the playground was “proudly donated by the community of Lakewood, California, U.S.A.”
Frost plans to take photos to show the Lakewood community upon her return.