Both occasions typically mean getting lots of presents. This year was no different, except for one thing: Both girls asked that their guests donate to Camp Moss Hollow instead of buying them gifts.
“I figured I already have a lot of nice things,” said Caroline, who lives in Arlington County and goes to Tuckahoe Elementary School. “I didn’t have a whole lot of stuff I wanted. I figured, why not donate to a charity?”
Caroline chose our annual Send a Kid to Camp fundraising drive because it’s a local charity that she understands. Moss Hollow is a summer camp in Fauquier County for at-risk children from the Washington area. It’s a place where kids ages 7 to 14 can trade hot, dangerous streets for safe, nurturing woods.
“I really like going to summer camp,” said Caroline, who will be going with her little brother, Andy, to North Carolina’s Camp Gwynn Valley. “I have a lot of experiences, and I think every kid should get to go to summer camp.”
Allie, who is from Bethesda, knows how fun summer camp is, too. She goes to URJ Camp Harlam in Pennsylvania. “I like being with my friends and making new friends,” she told me. “I also like swimming and arts and crafts — normal camp stuff. Mostly, camp for me is just making new relationships with other people.”
As her bat mitzvah was approaching, Allie thought about doing something for charity.
“Not everyone does it,” said Allie, who goes to North Bethesda Middle School. “It’s recommended. It adds a lot to the experience. Then you get to help other people. It’s not all about you.”
Allie’s synagogue is the Washington Hebrew Congregation, which has a long-standing relationship with Abram Simon Elementary School in Southeast. Members of Washington Hebrew tutor Simon students, and Allie has spent a day there, reading with pupils. The synagogue also raises money to send needy Simon students to camp. Often, those kids don’t have the supplies they need.
That’s where Allie came in. She asked her guests to gather camp staples.
“I had a bat mitzvah Web site. I had a page connecting to my Amazon wish list. I told them about Moss Hollow,” Allie said. “Also, in my invitation, I wrote a letter telling everybody that this was my bat mitzvah project and explained how they could help by bringing stuff to the party at the synagogue and also donate online. A lot of people also wrote checks to the camp as well.”
She collected 20 sleeping bags, 40 beach towels and 70 toothbrushes, plus assorted flip-flops and hair accessories.
“I think it’s important to find a project that means a lot to you as a person,” Allie said. “I think it was relatable to everyone — to all of my guests and especially to me.”
“We’re pretty proud of her,” said her mom, Tracy.
So should we all be. I’m hoping the examples of Caroline and Allie will inspire other kids — and maybe even some grown-ups — to think of those who are less fortunate.
You can make a tax-deductible donation to Moss Hollow at washingtonpost.
com/camp. Click where it says, “Give Now.” Or send a check, made payable to “Send a Kid to Camp,” to Send a Kid to Camp, Family Matters of Greater Washington, P.O. Box 200045, Pittsburgh, PA 15251-0045.
I wasn’t alone in my belief that cicadas were headed our way. Michael Zuiker of Wild Birds Unlimited, a bird feeder and seed store in Arlington, also was looking forward to a noisy infestation. He sent me one of the T-shirts he planned to sell in his store. On the front, it reads, “Cicada Tour ’13.” On the back, it has a checklist of area towns: Arlington, McLean, Crystal City, Tysons Corner. . . .
Brood II didn’t emerge in any of them. “I didn’t do my due diligence,” Michael said sheepishly. The T-shirts are half-price.
Hey, is your local school planning a reunion? Send me the details, and I’ll list them in my column. E-mail the name of the school, the class year, the date of the reunion and contact details to me. Put “Reunion” in the subject line.
For previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.