Day of fun for children grieving a loved one

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It was a special day in Montgomery County for some young children grieving the death of a loved one. (WPVI)

It was a special day in Montgomery County for some young children grieving the death of a loved one.

On Wednesday, volunteers tried to brighten up their day with a carnival. It's all part of a program that's been running 10 years strong.

You could hear the laughter and squeals from a mile away.

Camp Charlie in Horsham, Pa. is a special place for these kids, but it goes beyond the fun-filled activities.

Behind the smiles lies a profound bond created through heartbreak and loss.

"My brother died when I was 14, of cancer," said volunteer Gabrielle Rabadi.

"After my dad died, I went through a really tough time adapting back to normal life," said volunteer Kenneth Siry.

Camp Charlie is a unique grief healing camp for children between the ages of six to 12 who've lost a parent or sibling.

The week-long day camp, run by Jefferson Health's Safe Harbor for the past decade, provides a safe place for more than 50 children to express and process unimaginable loss.

"It was probably the best thing that I could have ever done, because Safe Harbor really saved me," said Rabadi.

These volunteers are former campers and professional bereavement facilitators. They come back time and time again to do for these kids what someone did for them.

"The hardest stories to hear are the kids who come in and say 'my dad died of a suicide,'" said volunteer Alex Leto.

"Hearing these stories coming out of these tiny little bodies, these tiny little children, sharing these powerful, horrific stories, traumatic things that have happened to them, you just want to scoop them up and you want to protect them," said Michelle Belcer, the director of Camp Charlie.

Belcer says the key is empower them.

"Our role is to build their own strength, their inner strength," she said.
The camp is free, but it runs on donations.

The camp is free, but it runs on donations.

If you'd like to help, visit AbingtonHealth.org

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