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Fresh Air Fund helps city kids become country kids

July 13, 2007|by ASHLEY HARTMAN

SCOTLAND, Pa. - Children from New York City and their Pennsylvania host families came together Thursday for a breath of fresh air at Scotland Memorial Park.

Every summer, the Fresh Air Fund provides free vacations to Pennsylvania for children from the five boroughs of New York City. This year, Pennsylvania hosted 13 children, eight of whom stayed in the Chambersburg and Shippensburg areas.

"We usually have three trips a summer," said Joyce Jamison, the Fresh Air Fund chairperson for Chambersburg. "We do have several families who keep the kids a whole month."

The Smith family is one such family. Alison and Dan Smith have hosted 12-year-old Danny Coyotl from Queens, N.Y., for the past three summers. This summer, he is staying with them for five weeks.

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"He gets fresh air, but we also take him on trips," Alison said.

"When I was little, my best friend had two girls who stayed at her house and it was fun," Alison said as to why she decided to become involved with the Fresh Air Fund.

The family took Coyotl to Baltimore on July 4, visited Washington, D.C., and plan go to a beach in New Jersey for two weeks.

"They take me a whole bunch of places," Coyotl said. "Baltimore was fun ... we went to the aquarium."

The Farrow family from St. Thomas, Pa., has hosted 12-year-old Kassandra Rodriguez from Queens, N.Y., for seven summers.

"We just like to work with kids. We do day care (and have foster children)," Diane Farrow said.

Rodriguez's favorite part of visiting her host family is "hanging out with Wendy," the Farrow's 17-year-old adopted daughter.

"It's been a fun experience," Diane Farrow said. "We take day trips to local parks - this year we took her to the Baltimore Aquarium."

Farrow also said Rodriguez is looking forward to helping the family paint their back fence.

The Hostetler family from Shippensburg has hosted children through the Fresh Air Fund for nine summers. This summer the family hosted Christian Barnes from Manhattan, N.Y., for the second summer in a row.

"I don't think a summer would be a summer without the Fresh Air Fund," Lydia Hostetler said.

"We want to give the kids a chance to experience the country," Michael Hostetler Jr. said.

Lydia and Michael have three children and believe hosting a child through the Fresh Air Fund is a good experience for them.

"It's the best thing for the kids - they learn different ways of life," Lydia Hostetler said.

For Naim Boyce, a 6-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y., this is his first visit to Pennsylvania. He is staying with the Ocker family in St. Thomas, Pa.

"We went to the mountains and to church," he said.

However, Boyce said he is ready to go back home because he misses his family.

The Ocker family decided to host children through the Fresh Air Fund so that their own two children would have another playmate during the summer.

It is also Miqaa-Iyl Dacosta's first visit to Pennsylvania. The 9-year-old is staying with the Baer family.

She said "the farms, the smells, and the animals," have been the main differences she has seen in comparison to her home town in the Bronx, N.Y.

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