When I was a kid, my parents’ best friends housed a New York City girl named Lisa every summer through the Fresh Air program. Lisa would arrive in mid-June, just in time for big July 4th celebrations, and together with her host family and their children, we would spend weekends camping beside the Susquehanna River.

To us, it was a regular thing, but Lisa was amazed by the peace and beauty of the Susquehanna Valley. Wildlife, trees in abundance and fresh air were not things she experienced on a regular basis and she loved those summer breaks from the city.

The Fresh Air Program has been in existence since 1877, and has provided 1.7 million disadvantaged inner-city kids with free vacations away from the city. An opportunity most of those kids wouldn’t be afforded under ordinary circumstances, many of these children form lifelong bonds with the families who host them.

The Fresh Air Fund is developed completely through charitable donations, and host families are always needed. If you happen to live in the country, and would like to take a child into your home for a week or two during the summer, check out their official website for details on how you can donate or even sponsor a child.

Not a summer goes by, especially around the July 4th holiday, that I don’t think about Lisa from NYC, and wonder if she’s still making summer visits to Pennsylvania. Maybe she has kids of her own now, and PA is a treasured vacation spot for her family?