Pledges Soar After Fire at Paul Newman’s Camp for Sick Kids

A fire ripped through the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp on February 12, destroying 30-year-old buildings dedicated to arts and crafts, cooking, creative writing and woodshop activities, as well as the camp store.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Within a week the Ashford, Conn.-based camp, which was founded by the late actor Paul Newman, had received $3 million in donations, pledges and potential matching funds. The camp annually provides a summer getaway experience to 300 seriously ill children.

“We have seen more than 2,800 donations and commitments since last Friday totaling more than $900,000,” Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Chief Development and Communications Officer Ryan Thompson wrote in an email to The NonProfit Times.

“Included in that total are a number of pledges from some incredibly generous individuals, foundations and corporations in our Camp community and beyond,” Thompson continued.

The support also included a match program of up to $1 million initiated by The Travelers Companies and the charity-focused PGA Travelers Championship golf event, which have supported the camp since 2007, and a pledge of $1 million from the Newman’s Own Foundation, a philanthropic foundation that distributes all net profits and royalties from the sale of Newman’s Own products to nonprofits.

Additionally, the Aetna Foundation set up a $250,000 matching grant, which will double up to $125,000 in donations made by individuals in the CVS Health community. Aetna has been a longtime corporate partner of the camp, according to Thompson.

Support for the camp began pouring in as word of the fire spread. “Our directors did not do outreach,” Thompson wrote, regarding the contributions. “The donations started when news of the fire broke and they have been very organic from members of our community, funders on social media and beyond.”

“We set up a special fund and a landing page on our website for those inspired to support the match and our efforts to rebuild,” Thompson added. “The website is www.holeinthewallgang.org/rebuildcampfund. We are deeply grateful for the remarkable outpouring of kindness and generosity.”

The buildings lost in the fire were covered by insurance, and the claim is ongoing, according to Thompson. The structures lost were part of the original construction from 1988 and money from donors will allow the camp to construct modern facilities.

“We intend to construct new buildings that will exceed the old standards and best meet the current, future and varied needs of the seriously ill children we serve,” Thompson wrote.