Party time gives the gift of camp to kids

RUSH,  N.Y. — On a recent Saturday, Madison McIntee was at her family’s motor vehicle repair shop, saying hello, thanking and hosting more than 100 people from the Honeoye Falls community and beyond as they dined on grilled chicken under a big tent, and kids played in a bouncy house, got their faces painted and everyone ate ice cream cones.

Not bad for the first barbecue party she’s thrown.

Madison, 20, organized the event to promote her family’s business, Shamrock Service Center, and highlight the caring, community-minded feel she and her family have come to appreciate in their small town — and how residents step in to support others.

Madison’s barbecue was a fundraiser that raised $1,500 for Rochester Rotary Sunshine Campus, which has run a sleep-away camp in Rush for children with paralysis and other physical challenges at no cost to their for nearly 100 years.

The barbecue was an extension of Madison’s efforts, every day. During the school year at college, she volunteers as a tutor for elementary-aged kids, and is a pen pal with a child at the Hillside Children’s Center, whose staff assist kids with mental health, crisis support and other challenges. She's also been a mentor in the Big Brother Big Sister program.

For nine years, she and her family organize a gift project, collecting gifts for kids whose families receive assistance through the Monroe County food pantry and may not be able to afford gifts. Each year, the present pile grows larger.

“It brings joy to my family, friends and I that we can be Santa’s little elves and do something kind for children in our community whose parents are not as fortunate as we are to provide gifts,” says Madison.

For the barbecue, nearby business owners donated items for a raffle. Madison appreciated that everyone  "had the kindest words and were extremely generous" as she set it all up.

The barbecue was the first fundraiser she has organized, and she wasn’t sure exactly how much she would raise for the cause. She’s happy with the result, and hopes everyone sees that their involvement made a difference.

“We were successful at bringing our community together to help raise money for kids so they can participate in a camp that's inclusive to everyone," said Madison. "I think a community can continue to make great impacts, and it only takes a few people to start.

“Big or small, whether you smile at someone who maybe really needed that kindness in their life that day, or donate a book to a child who may not have many, or are been a friend to someone when they need support ... People don’t often realize that everything they do has a direct and indirect impact in lives.”