Sisters bring summer joy to area kids

July 01, 2011|By TAYLOR ECKEL |
  • Adrian Russ Taylor holds hands with Snoopy at Paramount King's Dominion near Ashland, Va. Adrian visited the amusement park last year with a tour sponsored by For Our Kids' Sake, an annual program that brings Hagerstown families to area amusement parks.
Submitted photo

Every summer, three busloads of children, parents and chaperones depart from Hagerstown for a day of adventure at an amusement park.

For many of the children, this trip to the amusement park is one of the only times all summer that they will leave the Hagerstown area.

The annual summer trip is called For Our Kids' Sake and is currently coordinated by sisters Clara Broadus and Dorothy Bell.

Last year they took more than 175 children and parents to Paramount King's Dominion in Virginia, and they will return to the park this year.

This year's trip will take place on Saturday, Aug. 6, and costs $55 per person, which includes park admission, transportation in a charter bus and three meals. For Our Kids' Sake raises funds throughout the year to help subsidize families who need financial help.

Broadus said the trip is open to all, and parents often accompany their children.

"I even have quite a few parents calling me now," said Bell. "They want to go because they've never been to an amusement park."

Last year was Stacy Morris' first time making the trip with For Our Kids Sake. Morris, of Hagerstown, accompanied her children Taejon Houston, 8, Javon Nelson, 7, and Trinity Nelson, 4.

"My favorite part was my kids getting the experience. They've never been anywhere, or to a theme park or anything of that nature," she said.

She said her children were fascinated by the roller coasters, and were able to ride a kiddie roller coaster. She said the other two highlights were seeing Snoopy in a live show, and they especially enjoyed the water park.

"They had a ball there," she said, "We spent several hours there."

Morris said she and her children were able to participate last year because Bell arranged a sponsor for her family.

"I'm hoping to go again this year. But I'm not sure because I don't know if we'll have a sponsor," she said.

Throughout the year, Bell and Broadus work to raise money to prevent the event from being too expensive for families. Broadus said families are encouraged to pay as much of the fee as they are able, and For Our Kids Sake covers the cost for families who are unable to pay.

"If someone has three or four kids and really doesn't work or is on public assistance, we help them out," said Bell.

She said the main fundraising event is a turkey dinner at Broadus' home, and she has organized separate fashion show fundraisers. She and Broadus also send hundreds of letters to potential donors.

"Every year is really special to us because we're able to pull it off," Bell said. "We love doing it."

Each year, the day begins with a continental breakfast at the Memorial Recreation Center that is partially sponsored by Krumpe's Do-Nuts, Bell said.

Bell and Broadus pack lunch and dinner for the participants to eat at the park. Bell said they order hundreds of pieces of fried chicken, beverages and also provide fruit and rolls.

For some, the bus ride is almost as much of an attraction as the afternoon at the amusement park.

"We took a family last year that had never been on a bus before other than a school bus, and had never been to an amusement park," Bell said. "Those are the kids that we try and look for."

Morris said she and her children also enjoyed the bus ride.

"It was wonderful. We were able to eat, and watch a movie, we were comfortable and able to sleep," she said.

"I appreciate everyone coming together and sponsoring our family. (Last year) I was able to meet my sponsor and tell him 'thank you,'" Morris said.

Bell said For Our Kids' Sake was founded in 1983 by the late Margaret Washington to give kids a chance to do something fun outside of Hagerstown.

"The majority of the kids, they never get to go nowhere," said Broadus.

Bell said she has been involved with For Our Kids' Sake for at least 25 years.

"My grandkids are in their early 30s (now), and I took them when they were little," she said.

Broadus said she and her husband became involved as chaperones because they were neighbors of Washington's. After about a dozen years of their involvement, she said Washington asked her and her sister to assume leadership of the event 13 years ago.

Broadus said her favorite part of the event is the children's excitement about the trip.

"The kids, when we come back, they're so glad they can't stop hugging me," she said.

For more information about For Our Kids' Sake, call 301-739-2557.

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