Melissa was only 5 years old when her dad left her mom, her and her younger brother.
Her mom shared with school social worker Gloria Conaway that she had to drop out of college to now raise two small children all alone.
Recently, the little family has suffered more heartache with the loss of two close family members — one being Johnny, Melissa’s 10-year-old cousin.
“This was the cousin who taught her how to play little league softball,” Conaway said. “Going to camp for the first time would especially fill the gap of sadness and loneliness Melissa has been feeling lately.”
The week will include plenty of fun and activities like swimming, a ropes course, paddle boats, miniature golf, tennis, hiking, archery, crafts, night programs and more.
The Claremore Daily Progress readers once again have the opportunity to help Rogers County children like Melissa have the opportunity to attend the Salvation Army’s Camp Heart O’Hills June 23-28 by donating to Share the Spirit’s “Send a Kid to Camp” program.
At a cost of $210 per camper, $11,000 needs to be raised this year.
Department of Human Services coordinates camper eligibility, physicals and paper work. The Pilot Club of Claremore provides “ditty bags” with shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, washcloths, hair brushes and combs.
Salvation Army — Claremore Unit charters buses to take the campers to Tahlequah and provides clothing, bedding, shoes and whatever else the children need for the week.
All of the children are not on welfare. All do not come from families without a working parent.
But all are children from families where there is no money for anything extra.
Tax-deductible donations may be mailed to Share the Spirit, c/o Claremore Daily Progress, P.O. Box 248, Claremore, OK 74018 or dropped off at the Progress office at 315 W. Will Rogers Boulevard.
Names of donors will be listed unless anonymity is requested.
(Editor’s Note: The names in this story have been changed to respect the children’s privacy, but the story is real.)