Taking A Breath of Fresh Air

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency that provides free summer vacations to New York City children from low-income communities.  The Fresh Air Fund was established in 1877, and claims to have helped more than 1.7 million children. It programs reach nearly 10,000 children annually. In 2009, 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada; 3,000 children attended five summer camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York; and The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.  In 2008, 75% of the total income of The Fund came from private individuals.

I've been asked by the Fresh Air Fund to let you know about the opportunities available to make a difference in the life of a child.  Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for either one or two weeks. Youngsters who are re-invited by the same family may continue with The Fund through age 18, and many enjoy longer summertime visits, year after year. A visit to the home of a warm and loving volunteer host family can make all the difference in the world to an inner-city child. All it takes to create lifelong memories is laughing in the sunshine and making new friends.  The majority of Fresh Air children are from low-income communities. These are often families without the resources to send their children on summer vacations. Most inner-city youngsters grow up in towering apartment buildings without large, open outdoor play spaces. Concrete playgrounds cannot replace the freedom of running barefoot through the grass or riding bikes down country lanes.

Maybe you could be a host family or, alternately, donate funds to give these kids a chance to experience a summer vacation they will never forget.

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