Greater Waterbury Campership Fund Update: Donor says, ‘I just want to help the kids’

WATERBURY — Robert Orintas, of Waterbury, had a simple explanation as to why he made a donation the past week to the Greater Waterbury Campership Fund.

“I just want to help out the kids,” he said. “And I am hoping there will be camping this summer for them.”

That sentiment is shared by all who are associated with the program now in its 51st year of sending underprivileged youngsters to a cherished week of summer camp fun. The COVID-19 pandemic has put living a normal life on hold for everyone, indefinitely, and the fate of the camping season remains unclear.

Whether the camps that cooperate with the Campership Fund open this summer or not, Orintas said, “I’m sure it will be put to good use, even if it’s next year.”

Every penny raised by the nonprofit Campership Fund’s all-volunteer board of directors goes toward sending accepted applicants off to camp. It’s mandated and followed to the letter, according to the 501(c) 3’s founders’ intentions a half-century ago.

Cherrie Gillis, of Waterbury and longtime supporter of the Campership Fund, can draw on her experiences with camp and children to bolster her enthusiasm to continually promote the camping life.

“I used to do some work at the Kiwanis Youth Camp in Wolcott,” she said. “Seeing the tiny kids that would come, and the look on their faces and running around … You can’t have cement all around you all the time. It’s all for the kids.”

Contributions to the 2020 campaign have hit $90,001 toward the target goal of $165,000. Donations are accepted year round and are more important than ever as traditional sources of fundraising via special events have been canceled or put on hold due to the pandemic.

The Big Green Truck Pizza bash at the Greater Waterbury YMCA’s Camp Mataucha in Watertown, which had been planned for May 21, has been pushed back, possibly to September. Tickets already printed, and already sold, for the party will be applied to the event whenever it occurs. Sponsorships also still are being accepted.

The Campership Fund’s 50th anniversary year in 2019 raised $157,457 for tuition costs that allowed 434 children from the 10-community region serviced by the United Way of Greater Waterbury to attend camp.

Children ages 5 to 18, who are members of low-income families in Bethlehem, Cheshire, Middlebury, Prospect, Southbury, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott or Woodbury, are eligible to apply. Although the summer remains in doubt, applications are available now through the United Way of Greater Waterbury, or by searching “campership” on

Donations may be sent to Greater Waterbury Campership Fund, 389 Meadow St., Waterbury, CT 06722.

The Campership Fund can be followed on the Greater Waterbury Campership Fund Facebook page or at

Regular donations totaling $650 received last week included:
• Ms. Cherrie Gillis, Waterbury, $250
• Mr. Daniel Mahaney, attorney at law, Waterbury, $250
• Mr. and Mrs. Gary and Pamela O’Connor, Woodbury, two Big Green Truck Pizza tickets, $100
• Mr. Robert Orintas, Waterbury, $50
Big Green Truck Pizza sponsorships received last week:
• Mr. and Mrs. Amadeo and Lise Rinaldi, Waterbury, $100
• Mr. and Mrs. Gary and Pamela O’Connor, Woodbury, $100