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Fresh Air Fund History

The New Haven Register Fresh Air Fund was started in 1905 by John Day Jackson, then the Register’s owner and publisher. Since then, the fund has sent more than 35,000 underprivileged area children to camp. The Register administers the fund and absorbs all administrative and marketing costs, so 100 percent of all donations go to sending children to camp.

New Haven 'Bed Race' benefited Register Fresh Air Fund

By Joan Barbuto

The eighth annual New Haven Bed Race will have an international touch this year with the entry of a West German team by Pratt & Whitney Aircraft.

Seven Germans from Hamburg will compete in the Frolic Division with a bed decked out in red, black and gold, the German colors. It is one of three teams Pratt & Whitney is sponsoring this year.

Most of the Germans came here in January to install new machinery purchased by Pratt & Whitney.

"They wanted to get a little exercise," commented Bob Bishop, staff assistant to the plant manager.

Peter Mulks, one of the Germans, said they were asked if they would like to participate in the race by Jasper Mills, who heads the company's team in the Olympic Division of the bed race.

"We thought it might be a good idea to do something with sports while we are here," he said.

They also considered it a chance to meet more people and make new friends, he added.

Although none of the team members are regular runners, some are soccer players, and they have been practicing running and pushing a bed in the company lot for the last two weeks. Pratt & Whitney employees believe the German team, which ranges in age from 22 to 36, is likely to give opponents a run for their money.

"These guys have caught on quickly. They're good," said Mills.

Members of the team, in addition to Mulks, include Marco Froese, Harry Brandt, Heinz Feistner, Volker Wenz, Torsten Eschweiler and Michael Niemeier. New Haven area resident Michelle DeGennaro is the eighth member of the team. Hers is the easy job. She will be on the bed.

The bed race is sponsored annually by the New Haven Register to raise money for its Fresh Air Fund, which sends inner city youngsters to summer camp.

Channel 3 Kids Camp adds 'Unplug and Recharge'

Channel 3 Kids Camp is reintroducing children to nature, according to a release. "They've launched a new program named 'Unplug and Recharge' which brings camp activities to schools to spread some fun, educational information, and activities to students and their families about the benefits of a healthy outdoor lifestyle," the release said/

Leonard J. Tyl Middle School in Montville was the first school to participate in the Unplug and Recharge Tour with Kids Camp program staff, the release said.

"We were very excited to partner with Tyl Middle School with the Unplug and Recharge Program," Tonya Edelbaum, Child Care Manager. said, also in the release, "the middle school students enjoyed the program and especially enjoyed meeting the Kids Camp mascot Scamper the Squirrel. We hope to have more campers this year that will 'unplug and recharge' as they participate in the ropes course, archery, swimming lessons, hikes, and so much more."

The 'Unplug and Recharge' tour is free to schools in the state of Connecticut that are interested in promoting healthy living to their students in grades K-6. If interested, please contact Alycia Williams, Director of Programs to schedule your Unplug and Recharge tour, the release said.

"Channel 3 Kids Camp believes that ALL children deserve a Kids Camp experience. Its mission is to provide fun year-round opportunities to children of all abilities, families, and communities through educational and recreational programs that promote diversity, acceptance, and environmental appreciation. The nonprofit organization provides opportunities through after school programming, home school enrichment programs, weekend groups and respite weekends, traditional overnight and day camp summer programs, and its new, year-round preschool. Channel 3 Kids Camp is located in Andover and Coventry Connecticut on 150 wooded acres alongside the Skungamaug River." Please visit or call 860-742-2267 to learn more about these opportunities.
Summer: A Fresh Air Fund postcard from Camp Hazen

Editor's note: This story is from 2005

Campers and staff members are celebrating both tradition and current changes as Camp Hazen YMCA marks its 85th anniversary.

The camp serves as both a home away from home for children and counselors during the summer months and as a retreat and leadership facility for youth groups, schools and college throughout the academic year.

A portion of the Register Fresh Air Fund helps send 30-40 kids to this camp each summer, said Denise Learned, executive director.

"The camp programs teach values and leadership skills, and the kids learn to support and challenge each other through their participation," Learned said.

The camp has a diverse group of counselors, ranging from individuals who travel internationally, to those who commute daily to spend their summers at the 150-acre property on Cedar Lake.

The college-age counselors represent 25 countries and more than 15 states, and all must take part in a two-week training program before the summer sessions begin, said Bruce Watrous, development coordinator.

"This summer, we have 45 staff members from other countries and we have a few international campers from Italy, Japan and France," said Learned.

The camp was founded in 1920 as a residential camp for boys and became coed in 1979. It continues to serve as a coed residential camp and also operates a full-season day camp, which began in 1995, Learned said.

"The camp lets kids try things that they can't do on a regular basis," said waterfront director Cazz Elkington of England. "They are being taught what they actually want to be learning."

Campers have many options at Camp Hazen, and they can choose to participate in several age-specific programs and activities throughout the summer. Adventure trips, such as white-water rafting in Pennsylvania and rock climbing in Vermont, are available for teens entering ninth and 10th grades, while older campers can prepare for future jobs as counselors by participating in Leadership Service Trips, said Watrous.

"When kids work together, they develop a set of values, and they learn from each other without even realizing it," he said. Besides the Fresh Air Fund, grants from such places as the Westbrook Foundation and the town of Madison allow more needy children to attend the camp.

"It's the best place on Earth, because in the camp environment, everyone is the same; no one is excluded," said Lisa Gorski of Southington, assistant waterfront director. The Register Fresh Air Fund, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, provides outdoor camping experiences for underprivileged children in Greater New Haven.

The Register oversees the fund and 100 percent of contributions go toward the camping experiences. Carlene Olsen is a Register intern If you would like to share a story about a Fresh Air Fund camping experience or donation, send an e-mail to Register State Editor Helen Bennett Harvey at

FRESH AIR FUND: Clown has deep pockets for worthy causes

Editor's note: This story from 2008 shares the efforts of a local Fresh Air fund donor.

When it comes to his dedication to charitable causes, Hy Katz of New Haven never clowns around.

But when it comes to raising money for those causes, Katz is often known to use his skills as a clown.

That's because Katz, 72, also is "Big Eyes" the clown, and as such has been entertaining people with his antics for 37 years. (Read more about Hy here)

And during a recent event at Mount Carmel Congregational Church on Whitney Avenue in Hamden, Katz's clowning during a pizza party came up with an unexpected result:

Those who attended gave him $30. So Katz, who never asks for it but always gives any money he receives while clowning to charity, donated the $30 to the Register Fresh Air Fund.

The Fresh Air Fund was started in 1905 by John Day Jackson, then the Register's owner and publisher. The Register administers the fund and absorbs administrative and marketing costs, so 100 percent of donations go to sending underprivileged children to camp.

"I think it is a very worthy cause," Katz said of the fund. He's no stranger to good causes, as a member of Milford's Pyramid Shriners, which has its Pyramid Oasis No. 9 facility on Wheelers Farms Road. The Shriners support multiple hospitals nationwide, including three that specialize in treating burn victims, and hospitals in Canada and Mexico,

Katz, whose wife, Karole, makes all of this clowning apparel, also often participates in events for other causes, including walkathons, the U.S. Transplant Games and visits to area hospitals.

Katz, who is Jewish, quipped "what does a Jewish clown do on Christmas morning? They go to St. Raphael's," referring to visits he and others pay to the hospital on Christmas Day.

Katz said he hopes area residents continue to support the Register Fresh Air Fund, as "over the years a lot of kids didn't have the opportunity to go to camp but the Register (fund) allows them to go."

To date this year the fund has raised more than $30,000. Since 1905, the Fund has sent more than 35,000 kids to camp, and since 1980 has raised more than $1.2 million. Donations to the Fresh Air Fund can be sent to Fund at the Register, 40 Sargent Drive, New Haven 06511.

Share your Fresh Air Fund story: Contact Helen Bennett 203-789-5730

Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race donates $3,000 to the Register Fresh Air Fund


NEW HAVEN >> For Stratton Faxon New Haven Road Race Director John Bysiewicz, there is a lot to be said about giving back to the community.

Decades later, woman remembers what camp meant to a city girl

Editor's note: This was a Fresh Air fund story that ran in 2007.

When Lois Fucci of North Haven recently found an old newspaper photograph of herself as a Register Fresh Air Fund camper, it brought back a flood of memories.

The smell of the woods. The cabins and the swimming lessons. Candy night. Her first taste of birch bark.

"It was a wonderful experience," said Fucci, now 68. "We did not get a lot of chances to be out in the country (then)."

Fucci, who grew up on Grand Avenue in New Haven, where her dad was a construction worker and her mom was a college graduate who worked for a local bathing suit manufacturer, said her family was quite typical of the time: hard-working but not able to afford the luxury of sending herself, her now late sister, Janet Fucci, or brother, Frank Fucci, now 69, to camp.

But as it did and continues to do for so many children in Greater New Haven, the Register Fresh Air Fund gave the Fucci siblings a chance to experience the great outdoors and companionship, Lois Fucci said.

She decided to share her photograph with the Register and its readers in an effort to encourage area residents to continue to give to the fund.

The Fresh Air Fund was started in 1905 by John Day Jackson, then the Register's owner and publisher. Since then, the fund has sent about 35,000 underprivileged area children to camp. The Register administers the fund and absorbs all administrative and marketing costs, so 100 percent of all donations go to sending children to camp.

Jack Kramer, the Register's editor, is president of the fund.

"I am hoping people will realize that for many children in this area this is the one opportunity to be free of the city ... and experience some time in nature," said Fucci, who went on to graduate from Wilbur Cross High School in 1957 and then earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Hartford and graduate degrees at Fairfield University and the University of Pennsylvania.

She also served a stint in the Peace Corps in the Phillipines. Fucci, now an adjunct professor in reading at Gateway Community College, taught at Lyman Hall High School in Wallingford for about 35 years; she also has lived in Hamden.

She found the news photo that depicts a group of Fresh Air campers as she was organizing family photo albums. The newspaper clipping is not dated, but Fucci estimates that she was 10 or 11 at the time it was taken because she recalls having her tonsils out the year before she went to camp. "Camp is a wonderful experience and people need to support it ... if (children) don't get out there they don't know what they are missing," she said.

Donations to the Fresh Air Fund can be sent to the Fund at the Register, 40 Sargent Drive, New Haven 06511. To share stories about camping or donations, call Helen Bennett Harvey at 789-5730, or send e-mail to

New Haven Register Fresh Air Fund Camps 2014

2014 Participating Fresh Air Fund Camps

How to Apply for a Fresh Air Fund Grant:

Each camp determines which children will receive Fresh Air Fund assistance and the dollar amount each child will receive.The Fresh Air Fund does allow partial scholarships.The costs per child vary from camp to camp.Please contact the camp your child is interested in to see about Fresh Air Fund funds.

Camp Connri

The Salvation Army

New Haven Corps Community Center

450 George Street

New Haven, CT 06506-1604


Camp Farnam

Farnam Neighborhood House

162 Fillmore Street

New Haven, CT 06513


Camp Hazen YMCA

204 West Main Street

Chester, CT 06412

860-526-9529 or 800-248-8244

Camp Mountain Laurel

Hamden/North Haven YMCA

1605 Sherman Ave

Hamden, CT 06514


Camp Totokett

First Congregational Church

1009 Main Street

Branford, CT 06405


Camp Shalom

Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven

360 Amity Road

Woodbridge, CT 06525

(203) 387-2522

Schooner Inc.

60 South Water Street

New Haven, CT 06519


Camp Wepawaug

Woodruff Family YMCA

631 Orange Ave

Milford, CT 06460

(203) 878-6501

YMCA Strong Kids,

New Haven Youth Center

52 Howe Street

New Haven, CT 06511


Channel 3 Kids Camp

The Almanda Lodge

73 Times Farm Road

Andover, CT 06232

(860) 742-2267

Housatonic Council Boy Scouts of America

326 Derby Ave

Derby, CT 06418

(203) 734-3329

New Haven Boys & Girls Club

253 Columbus Ave

New Haven, CT 06519


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