One camper with sickle cell anemia came home from a week at Camp Victory Junction full of joy and freedom. Another from a low-income house now dreams of becoming a doctor.
And the parents of a daughter with Down syndrome said they didn’t think people could care like that.
Since starting in 2009, The Charlotte Observer’s Summer Camp Fund has raised more than $1.3 million, sending over 2,500 children to day and sleep-away camps.
This year’s goal is $215,000, which if reached would send 500 kids to 33 camps. Currently, the Observer has raised about $169,000, about $46,000 short of the goal.
Hornets President and Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield said camps are where many kids make their fondest memories and build life-long friendships. Whitfield is this year’s honorary chairman of the fund.
“Whether a kid wants to be a doctor, a teacher or an NBA player, it is vitally important that he or she has the opportunity to grow and follow that dream,” Whitfield said. “By giving these kids the ability to attend camps, where they can get out of their comfort zone, learn new things and meet new people, we are helping them set out on the path to reach their goals.”
Rolfe Neill, last year’s honorary chairman of the fund and a long-time business and civic leader in Charlotte, said the camp provides thrill, instruction and a lifetime experience to campers. The former Charlotte Observer publisher said if people could look in their spare change jar and send what they can, some children would profit from it for the rest of their lives.
“If just a small number of people would send in $25 or $50 a piece, it would enable the Summer Camp Fund to reach its goal,” Neill said.
Many kids receiving scholarships for summer camps come from low-income areas. They might be part of a single parent household or attend an under-performing school.
Other kids who benefit from the fund have health conditions and going to summer camp gives them, and their parents, a much-needed break. They are able to attend specialized camps where they are cared for, but also are free to play games and sports alongside other kids who understand what each other is experiencing.
Going to summer camp shows the campers how many opportunities are available to them. The campers learn about nature, healthier eating habits and how to be leaders. They come home with more self-confidence and aspirations.
To give to the Summer Camp Fund, donate at charlotteobserver.com/summercampfund. Or send donations to The Summer Camp Fund, P.O. Box 37269, Charlotte, NC 28237-7269.
Each Sunday during the drive, the Observer will list contributors to the fund. If you wish to make an anonymous donation, indicate it on the “for” line of your check or on PayPal, note your preference in the special instructions field. To donate in honor or in memory of someone, use the “for” line or special instructions field. Donations are tax-deductible and are processed through Observer Charities, a 501(c)(3).
If you have questions about your donation: 704-358-5520.
Jamie Gwaltney: 704-358-5612, @jamielgwaltney