A Giving Tuesday for the Kids

Giving Tuesday is a well-known day around the nation where organizations seek to raise money for their cause. This day is the biggest day of donations of the year with millions of dollars being donated to large non-profit organizations, small grass-roots organizations, or smaller chapters run through college campuses. This is how Camp Kesem at the University of Michigan raises the majority of their funds for the camp program. This year, their goal was $30,000. Their total? $36,958.81.

Camp Kesem is an organization that provides year-round support as well as a one-week long, free summer camp to children whose parents suffer from cancer. As a child, you shouldn’t have to worry about your parents or what they are going through. However, for many, these stressors are unavoidable when your parent is suffering. The goal of Camp is to allow for kids to have a space where they can be a kid for a week. By interacting with other children in similar situations, the kids that attend Camp Kesem join a safe and welcoming environment, where having fun is the number one expectation. 

Every year, the University of Michigan Kesem chapter runs two week-long camps in August that children can attend. With the help of students on campus raising money and taking a week out of their summer to be counselors, Camp is wildly successful. Sophomore Hawthorne Haywood joined Camp Kesem last year and had the privilege to serve as a counselor last summer. 

“I joined Kesem because I wanted to be there for kids who may be facing hard time, help them celebrate good times, and support them during the week of camp and beyond,” stated Haywood. 

After discovering the organization through Festifall on campus and seeing how passionate all of the previous counselors were about their organization and what they do for the kids, she knew she had to join. 

Haywood knows how important this camp is to these kids too. “Kesem is extremely important because it allows kids to have a week where they can let loose and forget about the chemotherapy, radiation, and the doctor’s appointments. Kesem is a place where they can be themselves and just focus on having fun,” stated Haywood. 

Camp is not only a place for kids to rediscover childhood and have fun for a week, but it also acts as a safe space.

“Camp leaves kids with a feeling that they are not alone in their struggles and experiences with their parents’ cancer. Kesem not only creates a community where these kids can express their feelings and they know they will be understood,” explained Haywood. 

This is where Giving Tuesday comes into play. In order to send all of the kids to camp for free, Kesem has to raise close to $200,000. At about $500 per child, donations really make a difference.

Image credit: Camp Kesem

“Giving Tuesday is one of Kesem’s largest fundraisers. Through Giving Tuesday, we are able to raise funds in order to send as many kinds as possible to camp and let them experience the magic of Kesem,” said Haywood. 

With the money that Kesem was able to raise on Giving Tuesday alone, they are able to send about 74 kids to camp for free. But this isn’t the end of fundraising. With their fundraising gala called Make the Magic set to take place in March, Kesem intends to reach their goal and send all of the kids to camp for free. 

Haywood says her favorite part of camp is in the Kesem Magic. “My favorite part about camp is seeing the campers together and watching them form the invaluable friendships. The kids at camp are extremely strong and courageous and it is truly empowering to be around these campers and a part of such an incredible group,” Haywood explained. 

Image Credit: Instagram

“Kesem is truly a one of a kind place. It is full of passionate counselors and campers. Everyone is dedicated to make camp the best week possible, and I am lucky to be a part of such an amazing organization,” stated Haywood. 

Knowing how important this organization is, every donation matters and makes a difference. If you would like to donate to Kesem and keep the magic alive for the children, you can donate to Haywood’s page HERE or my page HERE. Every donation makes a difference, whether it is small or large, so we thank you. 

Image Credit: Instagram

Header Image Credit: Camp Kesem