Dozens of brave campers withstood chilly temps and windy conditions this weekend to take part in the first ever Delaware KIDS Fund Camping Out for Coats. The Delaware KIDS Fund — a nonprofit established by the leading real estate development company Harvey Hanna — partnered with Operation Warm on the fundraiser to supply new winter jackets for every elementary school child in Newport.
“We were incredible happy to reach our goal,” said Harvey Hanna’s Ryan Kennedy, a fundraising target sufficient to purchase 1,100 new coats for the Newport kids, nearly three quarters of whom are at or below the poverty line. “Our offices are here in Newport, and we have so many projects in this area. This is just unacceptable,” said Kennedy. Each of the brand new winter coats will be personalized and customized to each child’s size, color preference and weight.
This was not your typical beef and beer or golf outing fundraiser. But it was great family fun, with several singing groups lined up by Gable Music Ventures over the two nights, bonfires, a tent with snacks, games and coffee station, and beer for the adults donated by Twin Lakes Brewing Company. Tower Hill freshman Reece Ratliff also donated his time to sing and play guitar one night.
“There’s a reason we’re all out here. Every camper is committed to our goal of helping underprivileged kids, and we’re also having a lot of fun,” said Kennedy. Delaware KIDS Fund raised $22,000 with their first campout and have plans to grow the fundraiser next year.
Event organizers challenged participants to pitch sponsors on supporting their time sleeping in the great outdoors, raising money while exposed to the elements but also coming away with an appreciation for the challenges of poverty and the homelessness that can come with it.
Harvey Hanna rented most of the tents from Dover Air Force Base Outdoor Recreation and their employees erected each of them. Campers just had to bring warm layers, sleeping gear and plenty of positive attitude to make it through two November nights under the stars.
“This is definitely new and different for me, and it’s cold out here” said camper Kevin Fasick, who paid $250 to camp out for two nights. “Its cool to get a couple dozen tents out here full of people overnight for a couple days.”
“So many people said, ‘You’re crazy, but we’re going to donate to you because you’re sleeping outside for two nights,” Kennedy remarked.