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Volunteers build new playgrounds in East Lake

Blue Cross Blue Shield and Kaboom teamed up on Tuesday to build two new playgrounds at the Salvation Army's East Lake center. (Image: WTVC)

Hundreds of volunteers rolled up their sleeves Tuesday to give one of Chattanooga's oldest community centers a much-needed makeover.

And both adults and kids in the community helped make it happen.

The Salvation Army recreation center has been at the corner of East 28th Street and 4th Avenue for more than 50 years.

But it's never looked like this.

Thanks to help from hundreds of Blue Cross Blue Shield volunteers, and the non-profit group Kaboom, kids in East Lake will have a playground they can be proud of.

And the best part is, local kids actually helped design it.

"We didn't give them any pointers, we just said what do you wanna see on your dream play space. And really just let them take control," Kaboom Project Manager Katrina Bitanga said.

But these play spaces are more than just swing-sets and monkey bars.

"We're building some picnic tables, and some outdoor activities for the kids like Cornhole and some other games," Blue Cross Blue Shield's Carla Raynor said.

And though the labor may have been cheap -- the equipment is not.

"I believe it's well over a hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment coming in here," Major Robert Lyle with

Salvation Army of Greater Chattanooga said.

Lyle says these new playgrounds will strengthen families in the East Lake community.

"By adding a park to the community center and the pool that we have, we're gonna be able to see families spend more time together," Lyle said.

Volunteer Keith Johnson says he can't wait to see the kids' faces.

"I think they're going to to be super excited that they have something that is safe to play on, it's brand new and it's for them to enjoy," Johnson said.

Salvation Army officials tell us the playground will officially open Wednesday and will serve more than 900 area kids.

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