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How YOU Can Help Send Kids to a Gluten-Free Summer Camp

In this season of giving, I wanted to share some news about something very near and dear to my heart....

The Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten-Free Saver, and Van's Natural Foods have teamed up to raise money for a scholarship fund to benefit kids that would like to attend a gluten-free summer camp in the beautiful San Bernadino mountains of Southern California from July 30-August 3, 2012. The camp is open to all 7-15 year old gluten-intolerant and gluten-sensitive children -- as well as those diagnosed with Celiac Disease. 

Large GFS-Charity-InitiativeAll is takes is just $2...YES, $2, to make a donation that Van's Natural Foods will match, dollar for dollar. So your $2 gift is really like donating $4, and a $10 donation is like giving $20. The goal is to raise $2,000 to use towards partial and full scholarships to give kids that might otherwise not be able to afford camp the opportunity to participate in this wonderful childhood experience. The fundraiser runs now through December 25. Please take a moment to make a quick tax-deductible donation. (I just did it, and it's very user-frienly...and takes just a few minutes.)

I say this issue is very near and dear to my heart, because my own son with Celiac had the privilege of attending a similar camp for kids with Celiac Disease this past summer. I also attended -- as a parent counselor. I saw first-hand how kids who had never been able to attend summer camp before, due to their dietary restrictions, were able to enjoy this rite of passage of childhood without worrying about whether the food served in the dining hall was safe. For the first time in most of their lives, they were able to be just like everyone else -- and eat just like everyone else. 

While the focus of the camp my son and I attended wasn't on Celiac Disease, per se (there were no "seminars" or organized discussions about being GF...rather, it was just about giving kids the same fun, outdoor experience and range of activities of any other summer camp), I witnessed many conversations among campers of all ages who were so happy to be around other kids "just like them" who could relate to the challenges they face in school, at parties, dining out, and in other everyday social situations involving food. These kids are often the only ones in their schools diagnosed with Celiac, which according to them, can feel really isolating. 

But here at the camp, all their camper friends "got it." They were not alone. The kids really connected, and in this age of Facebook, email, and texting, many of these kids keep in touch and go on to develop lifelong friendships which remain a constant source of support. I witnessed other long-time parent counselors get choked up talking about what a positive, life-changing experience the camp had on their child. 

And that's why I'm asking for your support today. If hundreds of people give just $2 each -- and Van's Natural Foods matches these donations dollar for dollar -- the Celiac Disease Foundation will raise enough money to send some well-deserving kids to a fun and potentially life-changing camp this summer. If you can afford to give more, there's no limit on the donation size. Thank you so much for your generosity, and Happy Holidays and best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!

**100% of all donations goes directly to the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) for the scholarship fund. CDF is a 501(c)(3) organization, and your contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.