“My children would not have had a Christmas without your kindness and generosity. Thank you for giving us something to smile about.”
Those words from a working mom struggling to make ends meet are just one of many notes and calls received from recipients of Operation Holiday, a giving project from the employees and readers of MediaNews Group.
Operation Holiday was started in 1991 at The Mercury in Pottstown to help families going through tough times provide something for their children during the holidays. The mission of the program is to make sure there is enough food on the table and gifts for all during this season of giving.
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.
"Operation Holiday each year demonstrates the commitment of our readers and our employees to help others less fortunate during the holiday season,” said Shelley Meenan, general manager for MediaNews Group.
“On food packing day, the volunteers represent generations of volunteers. Children of our newspaper employees started this tradition when they were kids and now return as adults to help out.”
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 Dec. 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.
"We are touched by the need we see in the communities we serve, and we are grateful for the faith our readers place in us to help make the holidays brighter for struggling families," Meenan said.
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.