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Camp Adventure to Islanders: Thank you

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Staffers and families who have been dealing with cancer gathered at Camp Quinipet in late November for the Kids Need MoRE CampsGiving retreat. Now they’re looking to next fall for a way to give back to Islanders who have supported their efforts over the years.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Staffers and families who have been dealing with cancer gathered at Camp Quinipet in late November for the Kids Need MoRE CampsGiving retreat. Now they’re looking to next fall for a way to give back to Islanders who have supported their efforts over the years.

For 17 summers, Camp Quinipet has opened its doors to Camp Adventure for a week each August and Islanders have opened their hearts to children stricken with cancer and their siblings.

Now Camp Adventure wants to give back to the community with a fall event meant to be entertaining and informative. The question of what kind of event would be appropriate is one camp co-director Melissa Firmes-Ray is asking. She’s reaching out to the community now hoping for ideas so planning can get under way.

It could be a reception, a dinner or any number of other events, Ms. Firmes-Ray said. She and her colleagues have chosen the fall season so as not to compete with the large number of summer activities on the Island and to be able to focus on getting set up for Camp Adventure’s 18th season in August at Quinipet.

While Camp Adventure and its parent, Kids Need MoRE, are always fundraising to keep the program afloat, this event is meant to be revenue neutral, she said. That means costs would be kept to a minimum for attendees, simply to offset what it would take to pay for the event.

For the organization that once was funded by the American Cancer Society, it’s always been a challenge to keep the program running since that money was cut. .

But Ms. Firmes-Ray and her co-director, David Lewis, were determined that the program that had helped so many children afflicted with cancer and their families wouldn’t perish. They organized Kids Need MoRE as a 501(c)3 tax deductible organization and thanks to volunteers — doctors, nurses, counselors and other staffers — kept the program afloat.

And that’s where Islanders became so important. Firefighters, police, emergency service workers, clergy and many other residents stepped forward to help.

People opened their homes to house extra staff for whom there wasn’t room at Camp Adventure. Others opened their homes to sick children and their parents — children not well enough to be housed at camp, but able to participate in some of the activities.

Firefighters and others organize a barbecue each summer for the campers. Residents bake brownies, cupcakes and other sweets for the camp’s annual summer prom.

But during that week, the staff is so busy tending to their charges and ensuring all goes smoothly, they have little time to sit down and chat with the many volunteers who have meant so much to the program, Ms. Firmes-Ray said.

That’s what inspired the fall event, she added.

What many who have been involved in Camp Adventure during the summer may not know is the efforts of Kids Need MoRE continue throughout the year.

Volunteers gather gifts for the December holidays, this year providing 170 children from 60 different homes with presents that families can’t afford to buy because incomes are stretched to pay for health services. The Holiday Cheer Bus makes the rounds delivering the gifts and this spring, 40 children will be attending the Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. There are home visits to families with children struggling with cancer, and of course, there are hospital visits to cheer patients and their families and to offer direction about various support services and treatments.

Throughout the year, Kids Need MoRE volunteers participate in various fund raising activities. For the second successive year, a Kids Need MoRE team will be participating in Shelter Island’s annual 10K Run/5K Walk.

If you have ideas for a fall thank you event for the Island community, Ms. Firmes-Ray and her team would love to hear from you. You can call (631) 608-3135 or email [email protected]

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