Special needs, special deeds

By on July 27, 2016
Sam Altdoerffer washes a Manheim Central School District van with the help of Aaron’s Acres summer camp staff member Kailey Zeager as part of the Aaron’s Acts of Kindness community outreach program. (Photos by Rochelle Shenk)

Sam Altdoerffer washes a Manheim Central School District van with the help of Aaron’s Acres summer camp staff member Kailey Zeager as part of the Aaron’s Acts of Kindness community outreach program. (Photos by Rochelle Shenk)

Aaron’s Acres campers reach out through Aaron’s Acts of Kindness

Participants in Aaron’s Acres summer day camp had a fun-filled time the week of July 11. Not only did they participate in activities such as swimming in the Manheim Community Pool, and riding at Greystone Manor Therapeutic Riding Center; but they also reached out to the community through the Aaron’s Acres Acts of Kindness (AAAOK) program.

This is the third year that the organization’s summer camp has been held in Manheim’s Veterans Memorial Park. On Tuesday, July 12, campers planted flowers at the Danner Home, 44 W. Ferdinand St., Manheim. Kelly Palmquist, assistant site supervisor the Lancaster’s summer camp, said that campers also helped one of the facility’s residents celebrate her 101st birthday.

“It was really fun and so unexpected,” Palmquist said.

Another outreach effort was held on Thursday, July 14. Campers helped beautify the Manheim Community Farm Show area by painting freestanding electrical boxes along Farm Show Lane. Now they sport a new coat of reddish-color paint. While some campers tackled the painting project, others washed several of Manheim Central School District’s vehicles.

“We, as a school district, are thrilled to have them (Aaron’s Acres campers) in our community and very thankful for their help,” said Galeon Brown, the school district’s director of facilities. “It is a kids-helping-kids situation, since our students ride in those vans. This is a busy time of year for our staff, and we appreciate their willingness to give us a helping hand. The kids deserve a lot of credit for their attitude of service.”

Campers that were part of the vehicle washing project not only could take pride in transforming dirty vehicles to clean ones, but they also had a chance to cool off on a warm day as they washed and rinsed the vehicles. Squeals and giggles could be heard from the area as they sometimes showered other campers as they rinsed the vehicles.

“Giving back to the community is important to Aaron’s Acres,” Palmquist said. “We want to show our campers that they can give back and not just receive services.”

She pointed out that last year campers painted trash receptacles in the Manheim Farm Show area and weeded along the fence of the football stadium as part of the Acts of Kindness project.

AAAOK also supports Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. This summer the program has raised approximately $1,930 in three counties for the foundation. In Lancaster, participants setup at the Lancaster Shopping Center on Wednesday, July 20. In Berks County, they had a stand at UGI Energy Services Inc., Reading, on Thursday, June 23. They were joined by volunteers from SAH, Inc., and Berkshire Systems Group Inc. The Dauphin County fundraiser also took place on Thursday, June 23, at Case Management Unit, Harrisburg.

Risa Paskoff, Aaron’s Acres executive director, explained that AAAOK is a community service component of summer camp in which participants (older adolescents aged 13-21) support charitable organizations in their own communities, learn valuable skills, engage in meaningful tasks, and most importantly, experience a sense of pride in knowing they can serve others, not just receive services themselves.

“Too often individuals with developmental disabilities are seen as people who always need our help; with this Acts of Kindness program, their entire perspective changes,” she said. “The adolescents feel good about what they are doing, knowing that they are helping others, and everyone else realizes that they are members in our community who can give back and make a difference in the lives of others.”

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

 

Ellen Fahnestock paints an electrical box in the Manheim Farm Show area as part of the Aaron’s Acts of Kindness community outreach program.

Ellen Fahnestock paints an electrical box in the Manheim Farm Show area as part of the Aaron’s Acts of Kindness community outreach program.

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