July 29, 2019 Category: Stories

New York’s Legendary Strand Book Store Creates Six New Libraries for Fresh Air Camps

The Fresh Air Fund and the Strand Book Store are working together to help Fresh Air campers develop a love of learning and reading.

With help from The Fresh Air Fund, New York City kids break free from day-to-day digital screen time and immerse themselves in new experiences at The Fund’s sleepaway camps in New York’s Hudson Valley. And now, Fresh Air camps have new libraries where campers can read, wind down and get lost in really good stories.

Campers at all six Fresh Air camps have enjoyed the new libraries this summer

The libraries — one at each of the six Fresh Air camps at The Fund’s Sharpe Reservation and in Harriman State Park in New York — were made possible by a generous gift from Fred Bass, who owned the legendary Strand Book Store in New York City until his death last year.

“It’s been my family legacy to get good books in the hands of readers, and this legacy will continue with The Fresh Air Fund,” said Nancy Bass Wyden, Fred’s daughter and the current Strand owner. “It’s an initiative, too, to get kids off of devices. Kids today have too much screen time, so this is a way for them to not have that constant stimulation.”

Fred worked at the Strand Book Store for 77 years

For Fred, a true-blue New Yorker who lived in the city his whole life, The Fresh Air Fund’s mission was a personal cause. Born in the East Village in 1928, Fred was only five when his mother suddenly died and he was put into the New York City foster-care system. Hard at any time, being a foster child during the Great Depression was particularly challenging.

“He was a real proponent of The Fresh Air Fund and the work they do,” said Nancy. “He thought it was important for kids — to be able to get out of the city.”

And now, thanks to Fred’s generous gift, Fresh Air kids will have another way to see how they can write the stories of their own lives, inside the city and out.

Nancy said she’s honored to see The Fresh Air Fund’s library initiative come to life. Her father, she is sure, would be pleased to see his life’s work making an impact for kids not so different from him.

“He would be very proud of the initiative that The Fresh Air Fund has done with his contribution,” she said.

You, too, can help transform the lives of thousands of New York City children by considering The Fresh Air Fund in your estate plan. To learn more about making a bequest or other planned gift options in support of Fresh Air children, contact Elizabeth Portland at 212-897-8910 or eportland@freshair.org.