My senior year in college I started volunteering at The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp (HITWGC), a non-profit I consider to be the best place on Earth. The camp was started more than 25 years ago by Paul Newman with the mission to serve terminally ill children and give them the opportunity to experience serious fun at summer camp despite their medical setbacks. Having spent six 1-week sessions at camp over the years I can attest to the fact that it is FUN. It’s a place where sickness is forgotten, differences are overlooked, and dreams come true. Since the first camp was founded in ’98 in Ashford, CT Newman’s dream has become a reality and they now have camps and offer programs all over the world.
To give you a sense of just how special HITWGC is I wanted to share an example of the type of thing that happens at camp. My first year volunteering I had the pleasure of working with a camper (we’ll call her Katie – I’ve changed her name because of the privacy issues that we always honor at camp) who was braver than most adults I know as she battled a debilitating brain tumor. She suffered from migraines, her vision was impaired, and the left side of her body was weaker than the right which meant she had to wear an ankle brace on her left foot at all times. In the morning soon after waking up I would head into the camper bunk room and help Katie put her ankle brace and shoes on each day. On the third day of camp one of the other counselors went into the camper bunk room before me and Katie quietly asked if this other counselor would help her put on her shoe and brace. The counselor of course said she was happy to do it and noticed that Katie’s foot had a blister on it. Katie told the counselor that I had been putting her brace on the wrong way and it had rubbed an area on her ankle raw. Katie asked the counselor not to tell me that I had been doing it wrong because she didn’t want to hurt my feelings or make me feel bad. Think about that. This young 10 year old who struggled with pain each and every day at all times because of her brain tumor was willing to take on even more pain to protect my feelings from being hurt. That kind of stuff happens all the time at camp because these kids, these very sick kids who sometimes spend months in hospitals being poked and prodded and suffering more than any child should every have to suffer, are kind enough to think of others before themselves. I remember this moment like it was yesterday. I met Katie in 1999 and I think of her every time I need to dig a little deeper or find strength from within. Her kindness and sense of humor was brighter and bolder than the disease that eventually took her life. That is camp. Kindness beating disease.
Since having my own children I haven’t been able to go back to camp for a week of volunteering but I am proud to say that each year my non-profit, Little Wings Foundation, has raised $2,500 to send one camper to camp for a week. Oh, I didn’t mention the best part. EVERY camper goes to camp for FREE. And the other good news? HITWGC gets the highest ratings possible from the agencies that assess non-profits. 81 cents on the dollar goes to programming and overhead costs are kept as low as possible by the organization. It’s seriously impressive and that is why next week I am asking you all to go the distance for HITWGC.
We are hosting a “Little Wings Gives Event!” Please join us as we make “Camp Care Packages” for the incredible children spending a session at the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp this summer. Knowing well this camp that serves children with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other rare blood diseases I can assure they will have loads of fun with every item we send.
We’ll be asking you to bring small toys and goodies (camp cabin colors are red, green, yellow, blue, and purple) so that our children can create care packages for the seriously ill children being served by Hole in the Wall. (You bring the goodies and we’ve got the bags and notes covered!) It’s a great way for us to help our children understand the importance of giving to those in need. Kids can help you shop for goodies, fill packages at our place, and write notes to the campers who will receive them.
Some of the items needed:
- duct tape (all different patterns and colors for making wallets, clutches, flowers and more)
- bean bags (for silent ball, juggling and other fun games)
- nail polish (boys and girls have a lot of fun representing their cabin on their nails)
- mini-notebooks for journaling
- pens/pencils/markers stickers
- travel-sized games
*Please bring 5 of every item so that we have one for each cabin color!
When: Sunday, July 12th 3-5:00pm
Where: Email me here for location information
Who: Everybody (children of all ages welcome!)
Why: Because if feels good to give to others!
We haven’t done a donation ask in almost 2 years so we figured it was about time!! If you cannot attend please consider donating to our cause. Our goal is to raise $2500 through this ask (we are 1/5 of the way there so far!) so that we can sponsor one child for a week-long session at camp. No amount is too small and we will pass 100% of your donation through to the camp cause!
Donate here: http://www.
Thank you as always for supporting The Sentimentalist and Little Wings Foundation. We are so grateful for your love and support!