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Fresh Air Fund: Giving the gift of time

Giving a child the gift of time can be the most rewarding experience for some people.

That's what the Fresh Air Fund does -- it gives children from New York City the time to come to a rural area and experience the sunshine, a cow pasture, time to look at the stars and a host family that envelopes them into their daily activities.

For the last 10 years Laurie Dick and her family have welcomed children, such as Pat, now 17, into their home where he has had the chance to visit Fred Leubner's dairy farm and swim in Skaneateles Lake. There are things he might not have had the opportunity to experience had he not been part of the Fresh Air Fund.

"It's been great. We've had the same boy come join our family for nine or 10 years," Dick said. "We have all boys and he just fits right in, one of the guys."

Dick, the Skaneateles area chairperson for the Fresh Air Fund, is now trying to recruit more parents to take time out of their busy schedules and offer it to more children who have applied to be part of the not-for-profit program.

"There are always more children than families that apply," she said. "The older children do tend to be harder to place."

While Dick said the program isn't for everyone, it is a great opportunity for a child to get out of the city.

Currently there are about a dozen families who participate in what is regarded as the Skaneateles area -- Skaneateles, Auburn, Marcellus and Elbridge -- and Dick would like to see more people offer their time by taking in a child.

"I always try to look at this personally. This isn't something we are doing for ourselves," she said. "The bottom line is, that's really the greatest gift you can give someone -- the gift of your time."

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