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Salvation Army Day Camp In East Harlem A Victim Of The Tough Economy

Financial Problems Shut Its Doors For First Time In Nearly A Quarter Century
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(credit: CBS 2)

(credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of children will have nowhere to go after a neighborhood summer camp was canceled at the the last minute.

Jacob DeJesus had big plans for this summer. However, the gym he would have played ball in and the classrooms normally used for activities all sit empty, after a Salvation Army day camp in East Harlem went dark for the first time in 24 years.

“I wanted to play, have fun in summer camp,” DeJesus told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey.

Earl Foster of the Salvation Army said besides programs at the community center, kids go to Great Adventure, the aquarium, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Coney Island and the Central Park Zoo. He blamed the tough economy for the situation.

“It’s very sad,” Foster said. “We’ve never had such a financial problem before.”

Camp directors have made pleas to congressional offices and City Council agencies. While they found a sympathetic ear, they didn’t find enough cash for the camp.

“I was like ‘wow, what am I supposed to do now?’” mother Maribel DeJesus said. “I went to several places and no slots. It was too late.”

Kim Sampson said she has three kids in summer camp and knows all about its value.

“Enrichment, activities, a safe environment and it would just be bad for any parent that has to go to work and do things in the daytime,” she said.

Maribel DeJesus, who works full time, settled for a weekly babysitter, which isn’t sitting too well with her 7-year-old.

“I stay home, do nothing except watch TV and play games, play with my toys,” DeJesus said.

Camp officials said if they can get any donations they’ll be able to keep the place open until the money runs out.

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