Program unites city kids with local families

Christine Pulizzi and her family have been hosting a Fresh Air child for five years.

And four of the last five years she’s opened up her home for a few weeks each summer to Elsy.

Elsy was to arrive by bus from New York City Friday night, all geared up to spend time in the rural wonderland that is central Pennsylvania.

“We just do normal family stuff,” said Pulizzi.

There’s the family pool, where Elsy can go swimming with Pulizzi’s daughter, Sofia, 10.

The Pulizzi family also has a family cabin where Elsy will be able to enjoy a real country experience.

Elsy also enjoys going to the public library where she takes part in reading programs and crafts.

Pulizzi said her parents hosted a Fresh Air child when she was growing up.

Later, she and her husband Joseph decided to do the same thing.

“We wanted to have someone for our oldest daughter (Sofia) to play with,” she said. “We enjoy watching Elsy do things. She learned to swim here. She is a good kid. She helps out. She’s very polite.”

The North Central Pennsylvania Committee were welcoming a small group of the city children Friday.

The Fresh Air Fund is an independent agency that has provided free summer experiences for more than 1.7 million New York kids from low-income communities since 1877.

Some of the children are leaving home for the first time.

Pulizzi said Elsy just seems to fit right in when she visits.

In the past year the Pulizzis opened up their home to Elsy’s parents who made the trip from New York to South Williamsport during the Christmas season.

And the Pulizzis are also expected to have Elsy’s brother, Miguel, stay with them through the Fresh Air program in a couple of years.

All told, about 4,000 children visit host families from 13 states through the program.