Kids Donate the Darndest Things

By John Kelly
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Say what you will about 13-year-old girls -- and since I've had two of them, I think I'm entitled to say whatever I like -- but some of them can be pretty darn sweet. Considerate, even. Generous.

Consider Chelsea Fine, a 13-year-old from McLean who last winter was a 12-year-old from McLean, pondering her upcoming bat mitzvah in February at the Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Preparation for the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony includes a mitzvah -- broadly speaking, a good deed. Chelsea had to choose her own mitzvah.

"I decided I would like to help kids, rather than adults or animals," Chelsea told me, neatly delineating the three main schools of philanthropy. She adores summer camp and has been going to Camp KenWood in Connecticut for three years.

"I love the friends I've made there," she said. "I wanted to let another child have that same experience that they can remember."

Actually, she wanted two children to have that experience. And she wanted them to have it at Camp Moss Hollow in Fauquier County, where it costs $710 to fund one child for one week. Chelsea set a goal of $1,420. She sent a letter to her friends and family members and asked that in lieu of gifts for her bat mitzvah, they make a donation to Send a Kid to Camp. She also said she'd donate $1,000 of her own savings.

When all the checks were counted, the rising eighth-grader at National Cathedral School raised $5,030, enough to send seven kids to camp -- "which is five more than I set out to send," she said.

Chelsea leaves for her camp today, secure in the knowledge that because of her efforts -- and the generosity of her friends and family -- other area children are going to get a taste of camp themselves.

Kid Stuff

What's that saying? Out of the mouths of babes? Well, let me tell you, I've seen some of the things that come out of the mouths of babes, and they ain't nice. The following sentiments, however, are. Nice, I mean.

The Cohen kids of Vienna -- Matt, 11, Rachel, 9, and Sam, 6 -- sent me a note: "Our coin basket was getting full, so we counted our coins, put in some allowance money and we're sending it to you in the form of a check. We collected 900 coins plus $11 in bills for a grand total of $114.50! Hope it helps. May the kids who go enjoy the experience."

Frederick's Adina Twenhafel, 7, also sent a note: "I like camp and I want other kids to like camp too." With it was a check for $64, half of which was her own money.

Half of the $100 sent by Heidi Thomas of Vienna came from a lemonade stand that her sons, Henry and Charlie Kennell, ran on the Fourth of July.

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