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Local families welcome Fresh Air Fund children

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Program brings New York City kids to Delaware

A small group of New York City children arrived in Laurel July 11 to meet up with then-volunteer host families as part of the Fresh Air Fund, an agency that provides thousands of NYC children unforgettable summer experiences at various East Coast locations. The kids will be spending up to two weeks with volunteer host families in Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Salisbury, Md., Stevensville, Md., Georgetown, Millsboro, Milton, Ocean View and Chester, Pa.

Eleven Fresh Air Fund kids, ranging from ages 7 to 18, convened at the Laurel Pizzeria. Some children are leaving home for the first time, while others are returning to visit the same host families for consecutive summers.

The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, nonprofit organization that has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million NYC children from low-income communities. Each summer, close to 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban and small-town communities along the East Coast from North Carolina to Maine and Southern Canada through the Fresh Air Fund's Friendly Towns Program.

"It's just a great program. It's an opportunity for the kids to get out of the city to experience what life is like outside of the projects or outside of their environment," said Fresh Air Fund Virginia Chairperson Kirsten Domingo, who was volunteering at the drop-off in Laurel. "In addition, the kids in the host families can see someone who is from a different culture or a different environment and open their eyes to new things."

Many of the Fresh Air Fund children can't wait to hit Delaware's beaches. Matt Carter of Lewes, one of the many Delaware hosts, and his two sons have been involved in the program for seven years, housing the same child every summer. The family and their Fresh Air child, Andre Christin, had a heartwarming reunion. "He's become part of our summer family," said Carter. During Andre's visit, Carter says the family plans to hit the beach, go to the boardwalk, visit multiple water parks, camp at the state park, go on boat rides, and go tubing and jet skiing.

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Original Publication Date: July 15, 2016

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