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NYC kids get a taste of fresh air in Vermont - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

NYC kids get a taste of fresh air in Vermont

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

They came by the bus-full from New York City and now 55 kids are in Vermont for an exciting summer break.

"I hadn't been out of New York City until I was 13 or 14 years old," host mom Francis Donato said.

The young people found their way to the Green Mountains thanks to a nonprofit program called the Fresh Air Fund. It's allowing the big city natives to experience Vermont with the help of host families. Frances Donato already has a few kids of her own, but now she and her husband are adding a young boy named Joshua to the mix for a week.

"We've wanted to sign up for a couple of years now. We both grew up in New York City, so for us it felt like something we wanted to do for other kids,"  Donato said.

The kids arrived on Monday, some came for the first time and others have been coming back for years.

"The first year we had him, he was tiny, we had to get a car seat, but now he's grown into a man where he's almost six feet tall," said Rich Tatro of St. Albans, who has welcomed the same child to his home every summer for nearly a decade.

Participants are slated to explore all the season has to offer, from swimming and hiking to visits to places like Shelburne Farms and Lake Monsters games. Organizer Mary Sherman says the experiences are win-win for the host families and their guests.

"The children from New York City, they're here to to experience the country and share their culture and see all the things that we do and I think our children benefit as much because we see our country through their eyes,"  Sherman said.

The summer in Vermont is one many of these kids would not get to experience without the time and generosity of the volunteers who seem to agree that opening their homes and hearts is just the right thing to do.

"I learned many years ago that I was not going to save the world and if I just did something nice for one person, then I have kind of fulfilled my obligation to humankind," Tatro said.

The Fresh Air Fund hopes to bring hundreds of kids to Vermont throughout the summer, but the program still needs additional host families to make that work.

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