If the Ghost of Christmas Past were here, he would take us down memory lane to the very first week the Frogbridge day camp was opened. The owner, Frank Pugliese, and his son, our Director, JR, were excited to welcome the very first campers to the grounds when circumstances took a turn.
Working in his yard at home, JR contracted Lyme disease, and worse— Bell’s Palsy, which resulted in his hospitalization for two weeks. He received daily treatments on the floor where most adults did, but on the weekends and holidays he was sent to receive his treatments on the pediatric floor, among many unfortunate children that were there for much worse illnesses. On the morning of the 4th of July, with many children among them, Frank and JR decided they would show the young patients a treat. As the fireworks were about to begin, they gathered all of the children by the windows on their floor and watched the beautiful fireworks display light up the sky in a show of dazzling colors, together. As they saw the children smiling and the joy on their faces, this father and son pair knew they had to do even more.
During JR’s stay, the Pugliese men also noticed the playroom for these kids was sorely lacking. Although the toys were broken or missing pieces, the kids made the best of the toys that they could. It was then that both JR and Frank realized that while JR’s time in the hospital was almost over, for many of these kids, the end of their stay was still a long way off with more fights to win. A sudden need to help them, to keep them smiling took root, and Frogbridge got to work…
Since the Pugliese family’s inspiration to give back, they have taught their campers each summer different ways to raise money for different philanthropies. Over the years Frogbridge has raised well over $75,000 – and that’s not even counting the school bus that was filled with food from floor to ceiling for the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean County following Super Storm Sandy!
Some of the organizations Frogbridge Daycamp has donated to are:
Each autumn when campers are back in school and gearing up for their big night of costumes, candy and fun, we invite our campers and their families back to Frogbridge for an incredible event called the FrogtoberFest—a night of Halloween family fun! Festivities include a not-so-haunted hayride, a haunted house, pumpkin picking, petting zoo, magic shoes, and a delicious buffet full of amazing menu items. Families have the option of bringing an unwrapped new toy to this event for our annual toy drive. Every year the outcome of donated toys is astounding!
For children to be unwell and away from home during the holidays is a heartbreaking thing, so we make it our mission to bring them even the smallest joy. This is why at the start of the holiday season, we load up our trucks with the donated toys and head over to several hospitals. Sometimes we can even hand-deliver the toys to the children in their rooms and even get to meet the families. Today, when children wake up to countess gifts under the Christmas tree, a single toy may not seem like much, but it means the world to these kids in need. And for us, there is no greater joy than the smiles that one little toy can bring to so many faces.