Day camp hosts fundraiser for Bradford Helping Hand Foodbank

The yearly Green Valley Alliance Church and Iglesia Hispana de Bradford day camp raised 871 items for the Helping Hand Food Bank.

A local church camp recently hosted a food drive for the Bradford Helping Hand Food Bank, bringing in a record-breaking 871 food items.

From Aug. 8 to 12, the Green Valley Alliance Church and Iglesia Hispana de Bradford hosted its annual day camp—this year it was called “The Great Investigation.” Every year the camp hosts the annual food bank drive as a way to give back to the community.

The food bank gets its biggest donations around the holidays, which is why in August this type of donation is imperative.

“The food bank hardly gets donations around this time because everyone is away and vacationing,” said camp coordinator Janina Espino. “Nobody thinks food bank, but August is such a key month for them because they’re preparing for kids going back to school. This is for the community by the community. We pull from the community to make it free but then we also give back because after everything we’re able to give this huge donation to the food bank. It just has so many benefits, my heart is full.”

“We tell parents we’re not charging anything but we do have a competition during the week and whichever group brings the most food bank items to camp, gets to slime one of the volunteers,” Espino explained. “We have a slime gadget where we put a bucket of slime on the top and you go under it and get slimed—it’s the coolest thing.”

Espino was ecstatic with this year’s competition results of 871 donated food items.

“That’s triple what we’ve done other years,” she said. “Usually we hit 200 or 300, so hitting 871 was insane. It was huge for us and almost overwhelming to see the donations come in.”

The day camp caters to kids ages four to 11 and had about 70 kids registered this year.

What makes the camp so special is it’s open to all, free of charge.

“We intentionally gather supporters from the community and the church so that parents don’t have to worry about paying anything for this,” said Espino. “In the summer it’s so hard to put your kids in any program because you need money for it. We’re always thinking of lower-income families who have their kids at home and don’t know what to do with them.”

All the campers have to do is bring a lunch and they get a day full of fun activities.

“We have stations that they rotate through,” said Espino. “They do sports, music, crafts, outdoor play, cooking, and a learning session because it’s faith-based.”

The experience of the camp goes beyond the kids getting to enjoy themselves, the parents feel the positive impact too, and try to give back where they can.

“The parents are just so grateful,” said Espino. “We always say free, but on the last day parents always come with monetary donations to give to the next camp.”

Espino and her husband Pastor Juan Espino are grateful for the community support and donations which helped make this year’s camp possible, Peter’s No Frills, Remax’s Wilson Verduga, Skwarchuk Funeral Home, the church congregation’s fundraising initiatives, and the parents who made donations on the last day.

To learn more about the churches, visit their websites: (English) and (Spanish).