Kids at Camp Korey, a program in Mount Vernon that hosts children with severe illnesses and medical conditions, will soon benefit from the help of a Puyallup-area company.
Niagara Bottling, a company based out of California, bottles purified water, sparkling water and sports drinks and operates 25 plants across the country. The company provided Camp Korey with a $100,000 grant — but the staff at Niagara’s Puyallup plant decided to volunteer some helping hands, too.
The camp secured a 200-acre property in Mount Vernon as a new location on Sept. 1. The property consists of 23 buildings with lodges, a garden, ball fields and a dining hall.
“The (former) Carnation property has been a wonderful property, but our mission is to serve as many kids as possible,” said Camp Korey’s board president, Chris McReynolds. “To continue to serve more, we’d have to do a significant expansion. We were very lucky to find the Treacy Levine Center.”
The new location has enough space worthy of Camp Korey’s expansion goal, but moving requires lots of time and effort. That’s where the staff at Niagara Bottling came in.
On Sept. 19, about 15 volunteers showed up at Camp Korey’s old property in Carnation to help out with the move.
“It was mainly moving, breaking down cabinets, some beds, and preparing some shipment to the new location,” said Ron Thalheimer, director of Niagara’s Puyallup plant. “(The volunteers) had different teams.”
Niagara Bottling and Camp Korey have been partners for about six years, according to Thalheimer, who has worked for the Puyallup plant for three years.
The property is something that we now own, so it gives us an ability to use our donor money in the best way possible. The fact that (Niagara) stepped up when we needed assistance is awesome and we want them to know that we appreciate all their time.
Chris McReynolds, president of Camp Korey’s Board of Directors
“We’ve been active with Camp Korey since 2010 (and) have donated in various ways to their boating and aquatic programs,” said Thalheimer, adding that he enjoys Niagara’s “commitment to community.”
Along with the volunteers, Niagara Cares, a nonprofit program by Niagara Bottling that supports “community initiatives related to children’s education,” provided a $100,000 grant to fund Camp Korey’s expansion, including a 30-passenger bus, a culinary garden program and an outdoor harvesting station.
“We focus on not just a healthy environment, but an environment that includes (healthy) food,” McReynolds said. “Nutrition is a very important part of what we do. (Camp Korey) kids have dietary requirements. Some have very specific needs.”
Campers will be able to go out to the garden on occasion as part of their Camp Korey experience, added McReynolds, and to “see where their food comes from.”
For Thalheimer, father of a 12-year-old boy who needs special care, Niagara’s help with Camp Korey hits close to home.
“He’s done similar things to Camp Korey,” said Thalheimer about his son, adding that he’s interested in being more involved with Camp Korey’s services.
While Camp Korey’s 2017 event schedule is pending, staff is working on developing three programs: residential summer camp, family weekends and Camp to You, where the camping experience is brought to kids at local hospitals.
For now, preparing the new location for more campers is on the forefront of Camp Korey’s plans.
“The property is something that we now own, so it gives us an ability to use our donor money in the best way possible,” McReynolds said. “The fact that (Niagara) stepped up when we needed assistance is awesome, and we want them to know that we appreciate all their time.”