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Woodbury Baptist's playground project aims to spread light

Volunteers worked last month setting out items at Woodbury Baptist Church's indoor rummage sale, which benefited an effort to send playground equipment to a sister church in Costa Rica.

When Woodbury Baptist Church members visited their sister church in Costa Rica, they had a chance to eyeball the playground equipment there.

Cindy Klatt, area missions leader for the church, remembered it well: two broken teeter-totters, a 1960s-era slide and two broken swing sets.

Really rough stuff.

"And yet the kids of the neighborhood flock there," she said of the equipment at Mansion de Luz church in La Guacima, Costa Rica.

Wanting to give those kids a safer playground experience, Klatt turned to her husband - Bob Klatt, the city of Woodbury's Parks and Recreation director - for ideas. He suggested she look into Kids Around the World, an international faith-based program that provides playground equipment to impoverished communities.

So Klatt composed an email to Mansion de Luz's pastor asking if she'd be interested in receiving new playground equipment.

No sooner had she sent the email than the church got word from the pastor there wondering if Woodbury Baptist could donate playground equipment to her church.

The serendipity of the moment was not lost on the local parishioners.

"This is why those of us involved think this is going to happen," Cindy Klatt said. "It just gave everyone shivers."

Woodbury Baptist is now in the midst of raising the approximately $15,000 needed to donate and ship local playground equipment to the Costa Rica church via Kids Around the World.

Klatt's vision goes like this: retired equipment from Woodbury's Summit Pointe Park is boxed up and sent to Kids Around the World, where it will be refurbished and repainted before it's sent to La Guacima for installation.

The church is in the early stages of fund raising, which included an indoor rummage sale event in January, where half of the proceeds went to the playground equipment fund, with the other half going toward a youth mission trip to Alabama.

"People are pitching in left and right," Klatt said, recalling how "a little old lady" crocheted washcloths to be sold through the fundraiser.

Klatt can't wait to see the shining faces watch as the equipment is erected.

Much as she'd love to go and help install the equipment next year, Klatt said she knows that's not a realistic goal. She's aiming for something closer to two to three years from now.

And it can't come soon enough, Klatt said.

The Mansion de Luz - translated, "Mansion of Light" - is a beacon of hope and safety in the community, where drugs and prostitution are rampant, Klatt explained.

"They are in a very dark place," she said. "To be the light in the community is their goal and we want to walk alongside of them and be that light."

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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