Camp Moss Hollow surpasses $500,000 fundraising goal

John Kelly
Columnist August 15, 2012

This hottest of summers has been making me sweat. Would we reach our $500,000 fundraising goal for Camp Moss Hollow?

My back-of-the-envelope calculations showed us on the right trajectory, but at a worrying altitude. And then a burst of last-minute gifts raised us up. Washington Post readers donated $551,282.66 to the 2012 Send a Kid to Camp campaign.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

This wonderful figure includes $24,000 from the Clyde’s family of restaurants, the amount that readers spent on special menu items each Wednesday of the eight-week campaign.

And since we raised nearly $200,000 in the last two weeks of the campaign, we were able to earn the entire $100,000 that our anonymous donor promised to match.

The grand total raised for the camp since 1982 — when the fund drive began in The Post — has reached $12,920,905.51. That very first year, readers answered columnist Bob Levey’s call and donated $119,544. Last year, we raised $555,185.69.

What does this money allow us to do?

It allows Family Matters of Greater Washington, the respected charity that runs Camp Moss Hollow, to host nearly 1,000 kids at the camp each summer. It allows poor kids to attend for free. It makes sure that the camp itself is safe and well-stocked and fully accredited by the American Camp Association.

In addition to serving campers in July and August, it allows Family Matters to run Winter Camp, where select youngsters are brought to the camp in the cooler months for intensive mentoring.

I want to thank everyone who donated, all 2,811 readers who made individual contributions. I want to thank Clyde’s for being such a vital sponsor. I want to thank the families who shared their stories with me. They may be poor, but they want the best for their kids.

I’d also like to thank the groups that came together to donate. This includes the residents of Marina Towers in Alexandria, who have been supporting Moss Hollow for 15 years. This year, they pooled their gifts to the tune of $4,210. The residents of Bethesda’s Edgemoor condominiums have been donating since 2006 and this year gave $1,875.

The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AASFW) are also regular supporters, donating $700 this year. The congregation at St. Mary’s Baptist Church in the District gave $1,400. And the members of VFW Post 5412 in Fairfax also made a much-appreciated donation.

Thank you one and all.

Bon appetit and bon anniversaire

Wednesday was Julia Child’s 100th birthday, or would have been, if the famed TV chef hadn’t passed away in 2004. People sometimes ask me: “John, did you know Julia Child?”

Who am I kidding? People never ask me that. But for the sake of argument, let’s say someone did. I would say, “Well, that’s an interesting story.”

In the year 1979, I was a high school student with an after-school job at the Woodward & Lothrop at Wheaton Plaza. This was back back before retailers thought people wouldn’t be able to shop unless they were in a climate-controlled box. Wheaton Plaza was a plaza. Only later would a roof be added, turning it into Ye Olde Westfield Shoppingtowne Wheaton.

I worked in the Brass Pony, a restaurant on the top floor of Woodies, the signature dish of which was an odd assemblage of ham and cheese served between slices of French toast that had been dusted with powdered sugar. It didn’t make sense to me then, and it doesn’t now.

I was a “utility man,” which meant I did all the gross jobs: washing dishes, cleaning pots, mopping floors, scouring steaming cooktops with a brick of pumice. It was dirty, tiring work, but unlike just about every job I’ve had since then, it was easy to tell when you were done. When the last customer was gone, the restaurant closed, every plate, fork and pan cleaned, every trash can emptied, every surface wiped or swept, you were done.

Except, one night I wasn’t. As I wearily untied my apron to go home, some haircut in clean pants wheeled in a cart full of soiled cookware, Cuisinart blades and the like.

I said something like, “What the $*&@! is that?”

He chirped: “Julia Child was just in housewares doing a cooking demonstration! These are the dishes she used!”

I’d like to say I licked a spoon or filched a measuring cup, but I just retied my apron and got to work.

To read previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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