Observer Summer Camp Fund shatters record

08/16/2014 3:50 PM

03/03/2015 12:12 PM

The Charlotte Observer’s Summer Camp Fund will send more children than ever to camp next year, thanks to the generosity of readers and the community, who together gave a record $160,000 this summer.

The fund makes camp possible for children whose families aren’t able to afford it. All summer long, hundreds of readers sent in donations, giving in an array of amounts, from $2 to $5,000. Their efforts were bolstered by several corporations and philanthropic groups.

The Foundation For The Carolinas, which had pledged to donate up to $10,000 if the fund reached at least $140,000, wrote a $10,000 check this week.

Sally and Russell Robinson, local community leaders and the Summer Camp Fund’s honorary chairs, said they were grateful for the community’s generosity. “It has been a joy for Russ and me to be a part of the Observer’s Summer Camp Fund campaign,” Sally Robinson said, “and we are delighted that the amount raised has exceeded the goal of $150,000.

“The fact that individual Observer readers this year contributed more than in any other year says a lot about the rising awareness in our community of the importance of the summer camp program, and how it can transform lives.”

Michael Marsicano, president and CEO of Foundation For The Carolinas, said the community foundation “has watched the growth of the Summer Camp Fund from its start in 2009. It has grown steadily and has provided a camp experience to more than 1,000 children in its short existence.

“The Foundation offered a challenge grant to ensure this year’s campaign goal would be met. Observer readers responded, exceeding the $140,000 required to receive the $10,000 grant,” he said.

One of the campaign’s largest donations came last week from Rick and Linda Hendrick, who pledged $5,000 to the fund.

“Linda and I have been so impressed with the opportunities everyone at The Observer is offering kids here in Charlotte and throughout the Carolinas. We wanted to once again join fellow readers in helping support the camp fund,” said Rick Hendrick, chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group and Hendrick Motorsports.

Also giving $5,000 was Southminster to honor the retirement community’s former corporate counsel, Louis Bledsoe. (He had been with Russell Robinson’s law firm until being appointed a Superior Court judge this summer.) “We thought it was a neat idea, since Russell was honorary co-chair this year,” said Southminster President David Lacy.

While the fund benefits each year from such large donations, readers contributing at the $25, $50 and $100 levels made up the bulk of donors this year.

One reader, who asked to remain anonymous, has given $10 each month to the fund over the past two years.

“I don’t have kids of my own,” said the donor, a 56-year-old tech manager at Bank of America. “So I like to help those without much enjoy something special.” She said she gives out of gratitude for “my great fortune over my lifetime.

“I enjoyed camp when I was a kid. It’s a little something that gets you away from your life.”

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