A Sierra foothill grocery store chain has enlisted the help of its customers to raise money for a good cause.
Mar-Val Food Stores just finished a month-long fundraiser for Tuolumne Trails, a summer camp in Groveland that is designed for children with special needs.
The five-store chain raised $7,225 for the camp one dollar at a time by selling paper dolls handcrafted by artistic campers at Tuolumne Trails.
The donation drive was the brainchild of Groveland Mar-Val store manager Pat Wrinkle. He said he borrowed the idea from the Jerry’s Kids Muscular Dystrophy Shamrock model.
Customers who entered any of Mar-Val’s five Northern California stores could buy paper dolls for $1 to $5, and then display them on walls and checkout counters in the store. In addition to Groveland, Mar-Val has stores in Valley Springs, Prather, Escalon and Georgetown.
“We considered it a real successful drive,” Wrinkle said.
The drive started last year in Wrinkle’s Groveland store, then expanded to the entire chain this July, he said.
Tuolumne Trails founders Jerry and Paula Baker said the money was enough to pay for a day at camp for 100 children. Campers churned out 3,500 paper dolls by hand using construction paper, glue, glitter and colored markers.
“We want to show our appreciation to the community for their support,” Jerry Baker said.
The camp opened in 2008 as a forest getaway for kids who have medical issues like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy that would make it difficult for them to attend a run of the mill summer camp, Baker said. The 80-acre camp hosts 1,200 children each year and can accommodate 84 campers at a time in six bunk-style cabins.
The centerpiece of the camp is its main hall in which 35-foot-long pine beams interlock to hold up the roof. It looks like a giant rustic log cabin, but in actuality it is a fully modern building with conveniences designed to keep campers entertained and safe.
The campgrounds feature a grass playing field, swimming pool, bocce ball court, library and a fishing pond stocked with bluegill and trout. A wheel-chair accessible hiking trail meanders around the park and kids can learn about the Indian tribes that once inhabited the area, Baker said.