Rolling River campers donate 45 ‘birthday bags’ | TheUnion.com

Rolling River campers donate 45 ‘birthday bags’

Submitted by Trina Kleist

"River rafters" and their families at Rolling River Day Camp this week provided birthday party gear for 45 local children who face food insecurity and donated the party bags to Interfaith Food Ministry.

Each of the 45 party bags contain birthday-themed plates, napkins, cups, decorations, party favors, games and cakes fixings – enough to supply six children per bag, said day camp director Margaret Boothby. Rolling River Day Camp offered campers, called "river rafters," sessions in music, science, storytelling, crafts and recreation. Camp themes centered around local waterways and God's call to be good stewards of creation.

The camp's service project asked campers to donate materials that would ensure children in food-insecure families could celebrate their birthdays in style.

"You've done something so amazing!" said IFM development director Kate LaFerriere, during the camp's closing program late Thursday. "We've never had anything for birthdays before … You're a saint today!"

The campers' kindness can leave a lasting impact on the children they touch, LaFerriere added. "No one is ever too young or too old to make an impact," she said when thanking the crowd gathered at Grass Valley United Methodist Church.

IFM is one of two local food pantries and provides fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, milk, eggs and staples to more than 8,000 people yearly, including more than 2,000 children. IFM estimates 12,000 Nevada County residents go to bed hungry every day, according to its website.

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"We have a lot of children who may have to go without birthday parties, and you've given them the gift of being able to celebrate their birthdays," LaFerriere added.

Three more local churches — Nevada City United Methodist, Emmanuel Episcopal and Peace Lutheran — work with the Grass Valley Methodist congregation to host the annual, low-cost summer program for children. Church members also donated generously to the party bag project.

Rolling River Day Camp will be offered again in July 2019.