LEWISTOWN - The Fresh Air Fund is looking for families to host children from New York City for a free summer experience.
The Fresh Air Fund is a non-profit agency that has provided free summer experiences for more than 1.8 million children from low-income neighborhoods since 1877.
Karen Zimmerman, of Oakland Mills, has been a part of the program since childhood, when her parents hosted a child for the summer. She decided to join the program eight years ago, when the child her parents hosted got in contact with their family.
The Zimmerman family, of Oakland Mills, has hosted Kayla, from New York City, every summer since 2010 through the Fresh Air Fund. Pictured, from left, are Abby Zimmerman, Kayla, Hannah Zimmerman and Mary Zimmerman.
"Eight years ago, my parents' fresh air child contacted them by phone," she said. "How surprised they were to hear from her after 26 years. She was going through a difficult divorce and remembered my dad's name. That is how she found their number on the internet. Seeing how she remembered her host family motivated my family to want to host a child."
Since 2010, the Zimmerman family has hosted Kayla, a participant in the program from Manhattan.
Zimmerman said Kayla, along with other children they have hosted, really enjoys the experiences they have every summer.
"They love going away in our car, because in the city they walk or ride the subway ... We include them into whatever we are doing, they enjoy the slower pace of living in the country," she said.
Zimmerman said the program allows people to influence children's lives for the better, and urges other families to participate.
"If you want to see a child walk barefoot on the green grass, pick flowers, wade in a stream or ride a bike, all for the first time, host a fresh air child. You can make a lasting impression in the life of the child and have fun doing it. After all, the little things in life mean the most," she said.
To learn more about how to become a host family in the Mifflintown area, call Dana Van Horn at 994-5373 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.