Declan Powell, four, left, and big brother Ethan, six, check out the freshly stocked Unplug and Play Box at Vernon’s Lakeview Park courtesy of the North Okanagan Optimist Club, which has been given permission to operate the boxes again after being closed all of 2020 due to COVID. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Declan Powell, four, left, and big brother Ethan, six, check out the freshly stocked Unplug and Play Box at Vernon’s Lakeview Park courtesy of the North Okanagan Optimist Club, which has been given permission to operate the boxes again after being closed all of 2020 due to COVID. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Optimist club welcomes back play boxes in North Okanagan

North Okanagan Optimist Club stocks boxes with new play equipment at four locations in Vernon and Lavington, two more to be added

Optimism abounds for a Vernon-based club to get kids outside and playing.

The North Okanagan Optimist Club has received permission to open its popular Unplug and Play boxes this year. The boxes were closed all of 2020 due to the pandemic.

“Our club members are busy stocking the boxes with balls, hoops, skipping ropes and more, all for the children to use to play,” said Dawn Guenette of the Optimist Club, who oversees the boxes, while stocking the one located at Lakeview Park.

Other boxes are located at Lavington Park, Alexis Park and Heritage Park, and the club has announced that two more boxes will be added this year at Heron Grove Park, off of 20th Street past 48th Avenue, and at Armoury Park on Mission Hill.

To use the box, simply call the Vernon Recreation Centre at 250-545-6035 and ask for a code. You then enter the code to open the box.

“All we ask is that you return the items and close the box when you’re finished,” said Guenette.

Boxes have been vandalized in the past and donated items have been stolen. The club is hoping that an informal ‘citizens watch’ program for those who live in the areas around the boxes can take place to help protect the play boxes and the contents inside.

In its 10th year of operation in 2021, the North Okanagan Optimist Club began its Unplug and Play program in 2013. They have received funding for the play boxes from the likes of Interior Savings and Shell’s grant program.

Donations for the boxes are welcome and accepted. To make a donation, or for more information on the program, email northokanaganoptimistclub@gmail.com.

READ MORE: UPDATED: Empty Vernon playbox re-stocked by anonymous donor

READ MORE: North Okanagan Optimist Club hosts youth photo contest



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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Ethan Powell, six, left, tosses a mini football to little brother Declan, four, at Vernon’s Lakeview Park. The mini football is part of the newly stocked Unplug and Play Box, courtesy of the North Okanagan Optimist Club, which is open for public use again after being closed all of 2020 due to COVID. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Ethan Powell, six, left, tosses a mini football to little brother Declan, four, at Vernon’s Lakeview Park. The mini football is part of the newly stocked Unplug and Play Box, courtesy of the North Okanagan Optimist Club, which is open for public use again after being closed all of 2020 due to COVID. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

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