Making camp wishes come true
Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
SUFFOLK COUNTY—At a press conference that was held last Tuesday at the Westfield South Shore Mall in Bay Shore, the not-for-profit Family Service League and the mall announced a new initiative to help make camp wishes for needy kids a reality. The Coins for Camp Wishing Well is a permanent display that is set up in the mall’s food court, and accepts coins that will be used to pay for a summer camp program for local kids in need.
Karen Boorshtein, president and chief executive officer of FSL, said it is her organization’s wish “to send as many kids as possible to camp.” She thanked the Westfield South Shore Mall for their partnership as well as State Farm Insurance and King Kullen for their support in the program.
“We are so happy to partner with FSL…to give back to the community,” said Vanessa Mitton, marketing director at the mall. “We are happy to support Family Service League’s Camp program that provides a positive experience for at-risk youth.”
Westfield Shopping Mall in Massapequa will also feature an ongoing Coins for Camp Wishing Well.
“We send hundreds of kids to camp every summer in large part to wishing wells,” said Boorshtein, noting that it provides them with an opportunity to participate in a number of different sports that they might not otherwise have an opportunity to try. “Every child wishes to go to camp every summer.”
FSL receives over 350 camp applications every year. This summer, thanks to donor support, the organization is able to place 244 campers in 21-day camps and five sleepaway camps ranging in stay from one to three weeks of summer fun. Besides providing a lifetime of good memories, the camp experience gives each child an opportunity to get away from loneliness, boredom of long summer days without activities, and also a chance to experience a safe place away from personal troubles or a dangerous environment.
“Unfortunately, each year there are children left on a wait-list or denied access to camp due to rising costs and insufficient funding,” noted a statement from FSL. They also emphasized that the wishing wells do make a difference in funding camp programs.
“Moving forward, FSL believes that the generosity of Long Island Westfield shoppers will help bridge the gap by ‘making a wish’ and donating coins in a fun, interactive way in support of FSL’s camp program,” it concluded.
Several prospective little campers were on hand to try out the wishing well, intently watching as each coin spiraled down into the well. Vanessa Lopez of Brentwood, a single mother to Jordan, said she was happy to see the wishing well at the local mall, especially since her son would be going to camp in a few weeks.
“He’s so excited about going to camp,” Lopez said. “People really need to see what FSL is doing. I’m so very grateful for this program.”
FSL is a Huntington-based human service organization that was founded in 1926 to help provide a safety net for people in need. FSL touches the lives of 50,000 people every year by delivering tangible help and crisis intervention across a spectrum of service areas that include homelessness and drug and alcohol abuse. For more information on their services, go to www.fsl-li.org.