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Sat., Aug. 29
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Fresh Air Fund children arrive in Massena


MASSENA - The furthest Mulan Pugh had traveled from her Manhattan home was the neighboring New York City borough of Queens.

That all changed Tuesday when a bus took her and other youngsters on an all day adventure from the concrete jungle of New York upstate to the forests, farms and rivers of the north country.

“It was long and fun and interesting,” Ms. Pugh, 9, said. “Everybody couldn’t wait until it was their turn to get off the bus.”

She was one of dozen Fresh Air Fund children who leapt off the bus in the Triple A Building Supply parking lot and into the arms of area families and caregivers. Since the fund’s establishment in 1877, it has helped more than 1.7 million children have a free experience in 13 states and Canada.

The children who arrived on Tuesday will stay until July 23. Gail Bice, St. Lawrence County fund representative, said Massena area families have participated for decades and credited that to the region’s generosity.

“We realize what we have to offer the inner city kids,” she said. “It’s a whole different world.”

The program is enjoyable for area families who participate too.

Kelly J. Coburn’s parents used to house Fresh Air children when she was a child. Now, the Norfolk resident is welcoming Tyjanae Brooks-Browne, 9, of Bronx for a second year. Miss Brooks-Browne’s presence gives Ms. Coburn’s daughter, Molly, 10, a playmate.

“The little girl we got last year was so sweet, of course we wanted to do it again,” Ms. Coburn said. “Molly always wanted to have a sister. We thought this would be a good experience for her.”

“When I got this little girl, it was just a beautiful thing,” she said. “It’s hard to put into words. When you have to bring them home, it’s like your child is going home.”

Miss Brookes-Browne said she enjoyed swimming in the Coburn family’s pool, having summer cookouts and riding on a tractor last year.

“I was good, and they wanted me back,” she said of the Coburn family.

Miss Pugh will join the Pratt family of Louisville. Mona L. Pratt said the family will take Miss Pugh to the water park in Old Forge, area beaches and the Louisville summer recreation program and teach her how to make s’mores.

Miss Pugh said she decided to try the program because her old sister experienced it and raved about it.

“She was coming back with a lot of stories and a lot of fun,” she said. “I thought it would be cool to visit another part of New York.”

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