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Learning to give back at Rolling River Day Camp

Rolling River Day Camp counselors-in-training show the bears

Rolling River Day Camp counselors-in-training show the bears they created on Aug. 4, 2014, at Build-a-Bear and donated to young patients at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park. Credit: Rolling River Day Camp

Rolling River Day Camp held its annual Give Back Week, a campwide celebration that raises awareness for altruism. From the toddlers to the teens, each group explored what it meant to “give back” through fundraising events.

For instance, on Aug. 4, some 60 campers in Rolling River’s counselor-in-training division donated Build-a-Bear dolls to patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. After creating the dolls at the Build-a-Bear location at Roosevelt Field mall, the campers traveled to the medical center in New Hyde Park to make this donation.

“It felt really good to give back to them,” said Rolling River CIT Lea Jaffe, 15, of Long Beach. “The whole experience, even making the bears, was actually a lot of fun.”

On Monday evening, the Rolling River campers hosted an ice cream social fundraiser at Ralph’s Italian Ices in Rockville Centre, where a portion of sales were donated to Rolling River's Campmates Program.

Established in 2010, the Campmates Program raises money to provide one month of camp tuition for children using Peninsula Counseling Center services. The Valley Stream-based center provides assistance to children with emotional needs.

Marissa Allaben, associate director of Rolling River Day Camp in East Rockaway, and a Hewlett High School graduate, started the program in honor of her fallen classmates – Jordan Satin, Adam Cohen and Jonah Richman -- who died trying to save a co-worker from drowning near Camp Baco in 2003.

There can be such a deep connection between you and your campmates,” Allaben said. “I wanted to teach that to our campers.”

Rolling River also helped raise money for the South Hempstead Volunteer Fire Department through a coin harvest, in which campers donated spare change throughout Give Back Week.

“We keep a bucket for the coins out for the campers to see,” Allaben said. “As it grows, it shows them that even a penny can make a difference when we all work together.”

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