Your Generosity for Kids' Camp Astounds Me

A dip in the pool at Camp Moss Hollow with new friends is a memory in the making for city kids.
A dip in the pool at Camp Moss Hollow with new friends is a memory in the making for city kids. (By James Goodwin -- Camp Moss Hollow)
By John Kelly
Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"I like to make people smile," says Iris Phelps-Perry, the staff assistant at the Wall Street Journal's Washington bureau.

Iris is the first person you see when you enter that Connecticut Avenue office, a smiling face behind a big desk. She certainly made me smile when I stopped by last week. A few months ago, Iris decided that she and her co-workers should raise money for our Send a Kid to Camp campaign, and since then she's been putting the touch on anyone who comes into her field of vision.

It is hard to say no to Iris.

"I'm a beggar," she joked. (Hey, so am I!)

In all, about 60 people in her office contributed, raising a formidable $2,925 for Camp Moss Hollow. "I like to give back," Iris explained.

I'm glad to say that a lot of you feel the same way.

With donations big and small, thousands of you decided to give back. I've counted up all the gifts for this year's Send a Kid to Camp fund drive, and the total comes to $493,914.81. Add to that the $75,000 matching grant from a local foundation that wishes to remain anonymous, and the grand total is $568,914.84. We smashed through our goal of $475,000.

As always, many of the donations came with notes and letters. Many of the people said the same thing: Thank you, John, for doing this.

I'm the one who should be thanking you. Odds are you don't know any of the at-risk children who benefit from your generosity, yet you give. I'm eternally grateful.

There are some other folks I'd like to thank today. Hope Asterilla runs Camp Moss Hollow and is always a gracious host when I drive out to visit. Keisha Clark of Family and Child Services, the nonprofit organization that runs the camp, helped us find kids and families to write about.

And, of course, thanks to all of the kids who spoke with us at camp and to the kids and families who shared their stories here at home.

Thanks to the local McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants and M&S Grills, which every Wednesday for eight weeks dedicated a different menu item to Send a Kid to Camp. All that calamari and apple pie raised $7,227.96.

Thanks also to The Post's Gerri Marmer, who handled the flow of money as it made its way from your bank accounts to ours. Thanks to my assistant, Julia Feldmeier, who wrote many of the columns about camp and the campers. (Several people have asked what Julie -- the Robin to my Batman, the Sancho Panza to my Don Quixote, the Danno to my Detective Steve McGarrett -- will be up to now that I'm taking a year's leave from The Post. She is off to business school to get her MBA. I'm glad I stayed on her good side, because she will no doubt be running a corporation in no time.)

And thank you to such people as Iris Phelps-Perry. Every one of the following groups had someone like Iris as a catalyst:

Interfaith Families Project Kindergarten Sunday School ($25); The Lazy Susans ($500); the Boxwood School ($100); Sisters of St. Joseph Gewirz Cente r ($100); Providence Presbyterian Church ($415.17); Silver Spring Memorial Post Ladies Auxiliary VFW ($25); Hoffman, Wasson & Gitler PC ($100); residents of the Marina Towers condominium in Alexandria ($5,832); residents of the Edgemoor condominium in Bethesda ($1,925 from their annual potluck picnic); D&O Creative Group ($50); Agape Men's Club ($300); Womenade ($130); Club Les Femmes ($100); Wheaton Hills Club ($70); Bethesda Community Base Ball Club Inc. ($724); Compsec Inc. ($2,130); Bethesda United Methodist Church's Mark Filer Memorial Fund ($750); Temple Sinai -- Rabbi Portnoy Fund ($500); Washington Chapter of Delicados Inc. ($100); Clients of Clinton's "Taxbabe" ($3,104); Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia ($100); Alexandria Seadogs T-Ball Team and coach Ed Walsh ($55); Friendship Seniors- Friendship United Methodist Church, Falls Church ($25); The Washington Post Metro Copy Desk ($865 from a bake sale).

What About Next Year?

I'll be heading off to England soon for a year-long fellowship, but that doesn't mean Camp Moss Hollow won't need your support. Watch this space next summer. My colleagues will have more tales from camp, and I hope we can again count on your wonderful support.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company