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Navmit Dhesi known as “Coco” gives Sunshine a hug during the Make the Magic event at the Fort Washington Golf and Country Club in Fresno on April 1, 2017. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Showcasing the ‘magic’ of Camp Kesem

Fresno State’s Camp Kesem chapter raised more than $24,000 at its second annual “Make the Magic” fundraising event Saturday at the Fort Washington Golf & Country Club.

The event was the biggest fundraising opportunity the group has had, so far, exceeding its original goal of $10,000. The money raised will send 24 students to Camp Kesem.

Hannah Poore, a senior sociology and public relations major, was co-coordinator for the event and serves as a camp counselor.

“‘Make the Magic’ is our biggest fundraising event of the year,” Poore said. “It’s really heartwarming to see the community want to support our campers.”

The event consisted of a formal dinner, a live auction and testimonies from a current camper and former counselor. Students helped plan the entire evening, all with the hopes of getting as many children to camp as possible.

Camp Kesem was founded in 2000 and provides free summer camps to children who have been impacted by a parent having cancer. The camps are run by student volunteers from across the country.

“Camp Kesem is a really amazing, supportive organization for these kids who oftentimes are going through really scary situations in their family life,” Poore said. “The community that Camp Kesem brings together is just a really supportive environment for people who have gone through similar situations.”

Three years ago, Fresno State became the first California State University (CSU) to have a student chapter for Camp Kesem. The team has grown to over 30 volunteers who work year-round, fundraising and organizing camps for children across the Central Valley.

Andrew Moeschberger serves as a summer camp director and purchased an entire table at Saturday’s event.

“It was really well done for an event organized by full-time students,” Moeschberger said. “It’s a really impressive event.”

He said it’s important to put on this event so children go experience camp. He was impressed with the number of people who donated during the evening’s live auction.

“This [event] is the vast majority of our operating funds for the year. To be able to raise that at an event like this is key to the organization being able to keep serving campers,” Moeschberger said. “Camp Kesem at Fresno State can’t operate without this event.”

Poore said the camp is also a learning opportunity for the counselors through their service.

“It’s really meaningful to give back to the community and to work with the kids in this way,” Poore said. “You also get to meet really awesome volunteers who are also students, and it’s great experience working with an organization and leadership experience.”

She hopes the event can showcase the positive impact a camping experience can have on the community.

“We really want to welcome all of the guests to the Kesem family and share with them the spirit of Camp Kesem and how magical of an environment it really is,” Poore said.

Khone Saysamongdy contributed to this article.