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Fresh Air Fund Seeking Volunteers

Fund looking for people to open their homes to disadvantaged children.

The Fresh Air Fund is looking for area residents to open their homes this summer to disadvantaged children from New York City.

Andrea DeBaggis, who organizes the effort for area towns, said the fund operates in 13 states.

"It's a very simple concept," she said. "It asks families from communities like ours to open their homes to children from neighborhoods in New York City."

"For some of the kids, it's their only chance to get out of the city," she added.

DeBaggis said the fund has two parts: one that involves summer camps, and another — the "friendly town program" — that operates in towns like Wrentham.

"Kids from age six to 18 participate in the program," she said. "They stay for a week, though you can have them for longer."

According to DeBaggis, about 10 families from Wrentham participated in the program last year.

"We're now trying to recruit even more," she said. "We have around 15 families looking to do it this year."

She said that the main problem in recruiting is that many people hadn't heard of the program.

"I find that, the more I talk to someone about it, the more they're open to it," she said. "There's no financial commitment and it's a simple process to sign up."

According to DeBaggis, families involved don't need to plan special activities.

"It's just normal stuff, like bike rides or toasting marshmallows over a campfire," she said. "It's just an easy thing that you can fit in your life."

The children come out to the towns in two sessions — on July 12 and August 1. DeBaggis said applications should be in around mid-June.

DeBaggis said those interested in signing up can go to the fund's website, or contact her at (508) 409-1972.

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