Local churches raising money to send Flint children to summer camp

Published 9:26 am Friday, May 13, 2016

Children from areas most affected by the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint will have an opportunity to attend camp this summer thanks to the efforts of several local African Methodist Episcopal churches, including the Franklin AME Church in Niles.

Members of the church’s Fourth District Women’s Missionary Society — of which Franklin AME is included — are currently raising money for a special summer camp program known as Camp Joy, which is scheduled to take place from June 27 to July 4 at Cassopolis’ Camp Baber, an AME-owned campground located by Stone Lake. Organizers are hoping to raise $47,000, which will go toward paying for more than 100 Flint children, ages 7-13, to attend free of charge.

The Rev. Jerri Porter, of Conner-Mayo AME Church in Dowagiac, said the organization has raised approximately $18,000 in the first two months of the fundraiser.

“We want to give these children some relief and help restore their self esteem,” Porter said. “We want to enlighten them and renew their joy and hope. It is something we hope they can take back to inspire others.”

While at camp, children will take part in a wide range of activities, from educational classes to athletics to arts and crafts.

In addition to providing monetary donations, Porter said the camp is also looking for volunteers ages 35 and older to teach classes, lead activities and chaperone the children during camp.

Organizers are also taking donations of computers and tablets and looking for businesses that are willing to provide food for the children’s meals while at camp.

“It is heartbreaking to think of what these children have gone through,” said Georgia Boggs, Niles councilwoman and president of the Franklin AME Church Missionary Society. “Without our children we have no future and these children suffered … They were innocent and have been the victim of negligence.”

Those wanting to make a monetary donation should send a check or money order to: Fourth District Women’s Missionary Society, C/O Conner-Mayo AME Church, 505 N. Front St., Dowagiac MI 49047.

Organizers are also raising money through a GoFundMe campaign, located online at http://www.gofundme.com/CampJoy-4thDistWMS.

Those wanting to volunteer should contact Porter by phone at (269) 462-9314.

Porter said volunteers would undergo a background check.