June 28th, 2012 marked the beginning of Fresh Air summer vacations for thousands of New York City children. The excited youngsters left Port Authority Bus Terminal to visit volunteer host families. They will enjoy one to two weeks of simple summertime pleasures such as skipping rocks across a lake, roasting marshmallows and making new friends.The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit organization that sends thousands of children from New York City from disadvantaged homes to experience a summer in the countryside in more than 13 states. Each year during the summer, children are able to attend the Friendly Town Program or one of five Fresh Air Fund Camps.

As a nonprofit agency, the Fresh Air Fund depends on tax-deductible donations from members of the community. “We are able to send children from troubled homes to the countryside because of our relationships with schools in the city,” Jenny Morgenthau, executive director of the Fresh Air Fund, told the AmNews. “It is a wonderful opportunity for children to get out of the city, learn new skills and meet new people.”

Those whose mission it is to make sure that every child has a chance to have a fun and eventful summer believe that just two weeks can change a child’s life. The Fresh Air Fund provides transportation for children to and from volunteer communities and arranges for payment of any medical expenses for children without insurance. Most children attend the camps in the summertime, though the Fresh Air Fund is a year-round opportunity for kids to escape from the city.

“I have three little sisters who have only attended camps in the city. They have never been on vacation, and the Fresh Air Fund allowed them to go for two weeks to upstate New York to have fun for free!” said Christine Conroy, 20, of Brooklyn.

The Fresh Air Fund provides summer camps that are both co-ed and non-co-ed for kids with or without special needs. “Some kids have never been to a camp before. A lot of families cannot afford them, and this is a great agency that provides children the chance to experience something they have never gotten to do before,” said Rich Brewer, 36, of the Bronx.

Host families volunteer to share their homes with children from the city for a period of time, which is how the children have access to parts of the country and Canada that they probably would have never been able to visit. Just recently, the Fresh Air Fund held its annual Spring Fling Benefit, which thanked all of those who have helped make this dream for children come true.

There is still time to register your child for a free summer vacation. For a referral to a participating agency in, please call The Fresh Air Fund at 800-367-0003 or 212-897-8900. Registration is free, and you may download an application online atwww.freshair.org.