Volunteers unite to build one-of-a-kind playground in 6 hours

Playground at Dye Clay Family YMCA to provide 3,000 kids a safe space to play

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Dozens of volunteers gathered Wednesday to build a park from scratch in just hours as part of an effort to give children a safe space to play in Orange Park.

Donations and grants from The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM! helped bring the playground behind the Dye Clay Family YMCA to life. Along with a lot of planning and organization, the volunteers built it up in only six hours.

"To be able to get hands-on and see the ripple effect that this will have to keep kids safe and keep kids healthy in our community is important to me," said Jon Dearolf, vice president of operations for the Dye Clay Family YMCA. "I wanted to come out and contribute."

The "instant" playground will serve 3,000 children in the Orange Park community who don't have access to clean, safe playgrounds.

It was built with their needs and wants in mind. Kids at the Dye Clay Family YMCA got to submit drawings of their dream playground. Many of those components were included in the final product, making it a one-of-a-kind playground with things like a rock wall, jungle gym and equipment to improve cognitive and social development. 

Local service men and women in the military also got involved in honor of Veterans Day. Many of their families will be using the new equipment.

Dearolf, who not only works for the Y but serves in the Army National Guard, offered up some muscle.

"We get to do all the heavy lifting so that's a great chance for us to show that PT go to work," Dearolf. 

The project was one of more than 30 playgrounds that The CarMax Foundation and KaBOOM! will build across the country by the end of the year to keep kids in low-income areas active and safe.