After more than 50 years of helping kids attend summer camp, Operation Sunshine is partnering with the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties.

The new Operation Sunshine Fund at the Community Foundation will continue the organization’s mission of providing children with campership opportunities each summer.

The campership program works with partnering agencies that contact potential campers in Oneida, Herkimer, and Madison counties, and kids apply directly to partner agencies for assistance to attend a summer camp.

Beginning in 2023, the Community Foundation will identify nonprofit recipients for the campership awards and details on the process will be shared with eligible organizations as they become available.

Contributions to the Operation Sunshine Fund will directly fund the camperships.

For more information or to donate, you can visit

Operation Sunshine has operated as a non-profit affiliate of the Observer-Dispatch since 1968.

It was established at the urging of Victor Ehre, then president of Utica Mutual Insurance Company.

“Victor was a big mover and shaker in the community,” said Dave Dudajek, former Observer-Dispatch opinion editor. “He was involved with the Boy Scouts at a young age, and his camping experiences taught him some of life’s most important skills. It occurred to him that in many instances, only kids of privilege were able to attend summer camps, and many children were missing out on this once in a lifetime experience. He reached out to Mason Taylor, an editor at the Observer-Dispatch, and pitched the idea to collect funds from the community to send underprivileged kids to summer camp. And the rest was history.”

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