We Need Your Help
The Manitoba Camping Association has been sending kids to camp through the Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Fund for 40 years.
To mark the anniversary, the MCA is planning something for the fall and we need your help.
Do you know someone who benefited from the Sunshine Fund when they were younger and are now in a place in their life where they want to give back?
Contact Rick Scherger at the
MCA office at 204.293.7339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would love to hear from you.
Growing up, Jennifer LaRiviere was able to go to camp at St. Stephens, and says "it was absolutely amazing."
Now that she’s a mother of four, LaRiviere wants her children to have that experience.
Three of the four kids are old enough to go to camp. But a few years ago, LaRiviere separated from their father, and money is tight on both of their ends. She says her two middle children, Angéline, 12, and Amelie, 8, would not have been able to go to camp if not for the Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Fund.
The Sunshine Fund subsidizes camp expenses for children of low-income families, but relies solely on donations and grants. Applications are available on the Manitoba Camping Association website, which processes requests on a first-come, first-served basis.
A family could be eligible for up to $700 per child per year in assistance, depending on where the family ranks on Statistics Canada’s low-income chart. A qualifying family would be able to send their child to one of 35 camps throughout Manitoba. Over its 40 years, the Sunshine Fund has sent more than 26,000 children to camp. So far in 2019, funding has supported 615 children, just shy of its goal of 650.
In July, Angéline and Amelie were able to spend a week at French-language Catholic camp in St. Malo. It was Amelie’s first time and her older sister’s second visit.
LaRiviere said both of her daughters have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but their personalities are almost polar opposites. Angéline, who is also dyslexic, is not very social and has a hard time making friends, her mother says.
"If it was up to her, she would just sit around and watch TV or build LEGO," she said. "So camp is a good thing for her, because camp pushes her out of her comfort zone to socialize."
Amelie, however, was described by her mother as "hyper." Unlike her older sister, she is incredibly social.
"At first it’s like, ‘I don’t know if I want to go. I’ll have a hard time making friends,’" LaRiviere said. "But as soon as I pick them up, I ask them if I want to go again, and they say, ‘Yes, definitely.’"
She said both girls smile whenever they reminisce about a night where all the girls at camp spent a night talking, acting out skits and doing crafts. Angéline is even contemplating becoming a camp counsellor in a few years.
"I’m super happy that they have the opportunity to go," LaRiviere said. "It allows them to grow up a little bit, in a different way. Just to experience life in a different way and experience how we grew up."
Because her girls have ADHD, playing and interacting with others can add to their education in a way sitting in a classroom can’t, she said.
"(Having access to the Sunshine Fund) is absolutely amazing, because if it wasn’t that, they wouldn’t be going to camp. And they wouldn’t be having this education, and the fun.
"It just wouldn’t happen."
How to help the Sunshine Fund
To donate, send cheques to the
Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Fund
c/o Unit F-1215 Henderson Hwy.,
Winnipeg, MB, R2G 1L8.
You can donate in person with a cheque during office hours or in a locked mailbox outside the door. You can also call in with a credit card number to 204.784.1130.
Or you can donate by clicking here
Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press
Amelie (left) and Angéline LaRiviere had a great time at camp in St. Malo this summer thanks to your Sunshine Fund donations.