Berks County residents met in the parking lot of Wendy’s, Hamburg, to greet eleven New York City children who would be spending up to two weeks in their homes. All part of the Fresh Air Fund program, the chidlren are given the chance to leave behind the city streets and experience part of the summer in the country. Host families are in Mcadoo, Fleetwood, Hamburg, Orwigsburg, Kutztown, Port Carbon, Pine Grove and Schuylkill Haven.
For some of the children, this is their first time while others have been doing the program for years and return to stay with the same families.
Ann Emanueli, of the New Smithville area, has known about the program for years though this is her first time volunteering to take one of the children into her home. When she was younger, her sisters were part of the program and she is still in touch with one of the children who stayed with them.
“I was so glad to get the paperwork and see it’s still going on,” she said after explain that she was afraid the program no longer existed after not hearing about it for some time.
Many of the families kept a look out for the bus and were prepared to create the children with signs welcoming them back or wishing them a great time for their first experience with the program.
“I can’t wait to get the kids back home and down to the pool,” said Emanueli as she waited for Jared to make his way off the bus.
The Fresh Air Fund was started in 1877 and is an independent, not-for-profit agency that provides free summer experiences for New York City Children. Host families participate in 13 states and Canada. Fresh Air children are boys and girls from six to 18 years old who live in New York City. First time visiting children are ages six to 12, but those who are reinvited by the same family may continue with the program through age 18.
To learn more about the program, visit www.freshair.org.