Local church trying to raise money for inner city playground

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - "I don't let the kids play in the neighborhood if they're not in the driveway or backyard. I don't let them out of my sight," says Tristan McConley, a father of five who lives right off of Morrill Avenue and E. Sixth Street in Reno. He believes there are a lot of things that go on in the area that kids shouldn't see.

"This is a high traffic area for a lot of streetwalkers here," he says.

"The casinos right behind us and there's the gentleman's club," says Jenny Aguilar, a mother of four who also lives in the area. She says there is no safe place in the neighborhood for her children and their friends.

"Kids are playing in the streets," says Aguilar. "Sometimes they're playing in the alley, but sometimes, they can't play in the alley because there are drugs and needles."

The closest playgrounds are about a mile away and kids would have to walk through busy intersections to get to them.

"They have nowhere to go to," says Angelo Austria, Pastor of New Life Christian Center. He estimates about 500 children live in the neighborhood.

His church is trying to do something about the problem. Last year, with the community's help, New Life Christian Center was able to raise $250,000 in four months to buy the empty lot adjacent to the church and an old building. Now, it's trying to raise $100,000 to build a fenced-in playground there. So far, the idea has gotten a lot of support from other churches and nearby businesses.

"I really fell in love with his vision for this community and we're just proud to be a part of it," says Jack Fisher, General Manager of the Ramada and Diamond's Casino.

"The neighborhood as a whole impacts all of us," says Jeromy Manke, co-owner of the nearby Jensen & Co. Salon. "So it's important that we're all in this together and that we help to improve the area together."

Now, there's no turning back. Neighborhood kids have already picked out the play structures they want built on the lot. And as church leaders try to get close to their fundraising goal, their vision is giving families in the area something to look forward to.

The church's goal is to build the playground on October 7.

People who are interested in learning more about getting involved or donating can click here.