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GiGi's Playhouse puts out urgent plea for volunteers to help send kids with special needs to summer camp

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-22 19:51:15-04

MILWAUKEE — Staff at GiGi's Playhouse in Milwaukee say they’re desperate. They are searching for volunteers willing to help give children with down syndrome and other disabilities a summer they’ll never forget.

"We are in crunch time," said Lauren Clausing the volunteer and program coordinator at GiGi’s Playhouse.

"It’s really huge for the families that get to go to some cases the very first time having a summer camp," said Sara Van Deurzen, the playhouse's operations director.

Van Deurzen says the Jewish Community Center selected them to spend two weeks at the center’s Rainbow Day Camp in August for free.

"Often times our kids are excluded or just not invited to participate," said Van Deurzen.

"To be able to do things like sports, fishing, swimming, dodgeball, all kinds of things that you do at summer camp, is really going to be an incredible experience," said Clausing.

In order to make this summer camp experience happen, the playhouse needs at least five more volunteers. But they say they’ve seen a decline in those willing to help.

"This year we have seen fewer volunteers signing up. Even throughout the pandemic when we had to go virtual with our programs, we had more volunteers than this," said Van Deurzen.

And if they don't get the volunteers they need in time...

"We would have to start cutting participants from our list and we really don’t want to do that," said Clausing.

That’s why GiGi's Playhouse is now turning to the community for help. They are looking for anyone 16 years or older to spend some time creating memories for these kids that will last a lifetime.

"It’s really special for us to provide that for them," said Clausing.

"I can’t imagine the heartbreak that would happen if our kids can’t go to camp," said Van Deurzen.

If you would like to volunteer, click here to sign up.

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