Josh Mannis: Congregation Shaare Emeth

Josh Mannis, right (blue shirt, holding guitar), chose to volunteer at Camp Rainbow, a sleepover camp for children with cancer, for his mitzvah project. Mannis collected donations of new or gently used musical instruments for the campers.

Josh knows that music is good for the soul. Therefore, he wanted to share his love of music with the kids at Camp Rainbow, a sleepover camp for children with cancer, by collecting and donating new or gently used musical instruments. “I wanted to be able to offer a musical experience to the campers so that it would be therapeutic to them during their cancer experience,” he said.

Choosing Camp Rainbow was easy for Josh, son of Jill and Scott Mannis of Chesterfield. He has a soft spot in his heart for kids, especially those that are ill. Another reason is because his longtime music teacher’s son, who is currently fighting a very serious case of cancer, attended Camp Rainbow. Visiting his music teacher weekly, and hearing about the trauma and challenges cancer puts on a family, made this cause close to his heart.

The collection was a tremendous success. Friends and family donated many great items, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, speakers/amps, electric keyboards, and bongo drums. Josh also collected a few Ipods, which were put into the cabins, percussion accessories, and toy instruments for the younger children. In total, there were about 100 items.

Josh and his family delivered the donations (made in his music teacher’s son’s name) to Camp Rainbow right before the camp opened in June. He was invited to spend a day to work with the music specialists and participate in the music activities. One special part was when Maryville University’s Kids Rock Cancer came to the camp. This is an innovative program that helps children cope with the unique set of emotional challenges that accompany a cancer diagnosis. Using a portable recording studio, a certified music therapist helps the child write and record a unique song on a CD to take home and keep. They were very grateful for Josh’s donated instruments.

While most of the instruments were kept at the camp, several items were given to the children. As one parent said, “Thanks again for the wonderful gift of a guitar for Jacob. It is his pride and joy. He plays it everyday. May you be blessed for all your dedication to Camp Rainbow. God promises rewards!!”

Josh, a student at Parkway Central Middle School, felt very passionate about giving to sick children, especially giving the gift of music.  “I understand how music can calm the mind and is good for the soul,” he said. “I’ve been a guitar player for eight years and I use music every day of my life,” he continued. “I get a lot of satisfaction by putting a smile on a child’s face.” His mother said he has a sincere and genuine love of children and giving them the gift of music was what he set out to do.”

Ronnie Brockman, Co-Director of Camp Rainbow, had this to say: “It was so wonderful last night. One of our campers picked up the violin that was donated by Josh Mannis, and started to play. Then two other campers picked up other instruments from the box and together they made a band. Their counselors encouraged them to play in the talent show. This is what sharing and receiving donations is all about. Our campers have a chance to share their hidden talents and build their self-esteem.”

Camp Rainbow is a weeklong sleepover camp for children ages 6 to 13 that have had or are currently living with cancer or other blood-related disorders.  The goal of Camp Rainbow is to enable these children to have a “normal” camping experience, regardless of their illness or the side effects of their treatments. To make a donation in Josh’s honor or for more information, visit www.camprainbow.com.