With four children, Sky is thankful for the resources she received from the Women's Center of Montgomery County that helped her get back on her feet.
"I have an 8-year-old son, a 7-year-old daughter, a 2-year-old boy and a 10-month-old baby girl," she said.
Although she has a place to stay, Sky (not her real name) considers herself homeless.
"I'm currently staying with a family member, but it's their home, not mine. We're looking to move into a new place very soon."
Like many clients at the center, Sky was seeking a way out from horrific living conditions, she said.
"I went through a domestic violence situation. It was just an awful situation for months, to the point that I couldn't work. Getting back on track hasn't been easy. Trying to find a job that will cover rent is hard because three-bedroom apartments are $1,000 or more."
It helps that she enjoys her new job at Chick-fil-A.
"It's a steady schedule, coming to work every day and taking the kids to daycare, and things like that. I was a caregiver prior to working here. My client passed away, so no hours, no pay. With that kind of work you never know if you're going to work or not. That's why I'm glad to be working here now. I would do caregiving again part-time, but Chick-fil-A is great because I know I can come here and work every day."
With Christmas on the way, Sky had been told by a case worker that she wouldn't need to worry about Santa stopping by this year, as she qualified for the Operation Holiday program.
"I'm not sure what they have planned, but anything will be nice," she said.
Now in its 29th year, Operation Holiday has provided a brighter holiday season to thousands of families with children throughout the region. Donations from readers last year allowed the program to provide food and gifts for 144 families with 442 children in need.
This year, 15 agencies in Montgomery County and northern Chester County have referred 107 families with 325 children. Stories of families interviewed by our reporters will appear in the newspaper and online between now and December 24.
There is no overhead with Operation Holiday and all funds stay local. Funds are collected and audited in a non-profit foundation account managed by staff of MediaNews Group.
Food, which includes the fixings for a holiday dinner as well as staples for the pantry, is ordered, bought, packed and distributed by employees and their family members as well as local high school and community volunteers..
Gift cards for every child in the program 16 years of age or younger are purchased through Boscov’s and distributed in partnership with the referring agencies.
Operation Holiday does not accept families who have not been referred by an agency in order to protect the integrity of the program.
Operation Holiday is funded solely by readers’ contributions. All contributions are tax deductible.
Contributions can be mailed to The Mercury, Attn: Operation Holiday, PO Box 1181, Pottstown, PA 19464, or The Reporter, 307 Derstine Ave., Lansdale PA 19446. Make checks payable to "Operation Holiday."
Online donations are being accepted in a secure portal in partnership with TriCounty Community Network. Visit https://tcnetwork.org/ and click on the link for Operation Holiday.