RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- A group of families from around Fairfield County gathered in Ridgefield on Thursday to greet 18 New York City children who will be spending two weeks in Connecticut through the Fresh Air Fund .
The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit agency that matches New York City children with host families in rural, suburban and small-town communities for summer experiences. The kids get a chance to get out of the city for a couple weeks to play outside and enjoy a summer vacation they might not normally experience. The kids who arrived Thursday will be spending two weeks with families in Ridgefield, New Canaan, New Milford, Weston, Sherman and Sandy Hook.
As they waited for the bus of Fresh Air children to arrive at the St. Andrew's Church in Ridgefield, Sophia and Jeremy Haber held up a sign welcoming their new house guest, Diamond. The mom, Caroline Chanin, said the family had hosted a Fresh Air child 10 years ago, when Sophia was just a baby and before Jeremy was born.
"We thought it would be fun. It's a chance to meet new people and welcome someone and show them how beautiful the area is," Chanin said.
"I think it's a great opportunity to have fun," said Jeremy, who said they plan to go to the beach and to the lake and to enjoy ice cream.
"It's a nice thing for kids from the city who aren't able to come to the suburbs and to give them a chance to have acceptance and a family to welcome them," said Sophia.
Janet and Ryan Lee of New Canaan, along with their children Lauryn, Camryn and Jake, also welcome a visitor. This is the first time they participated in the Fresh Air Fund.
"We thought it was a great way to give back," said Janet. The family plans on activities such as swimming, going to the park and playing at the playground. "It will be a great experience for the child, and for our kids as well."
"It gives them a break from the heat and a chance to go outside, especially for kids from neighborhoods where being outside isn't necessarily safe," said Lisa Harder, the Ridgefield coordinator for the Fresh Air Fund. "What's really great is the long-term connections that the kids form."
Among the group activities for the kids while they are here is a pool party, a lemonade stand fundraiser and a camping trip.