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Kate is a mom of two teens who is not looking for much, but knows the holidays may be hard to get through this year.

"I'm employed, that's kind of a plus, but it's still a little hard to make ends meet, even with a job," she said.

"It's been rough, just trying to put food on the table, and working, day by day, from paycheck to paycheck," said Kate.

Her kids are older, 14 and 16, and all they want is electronics: "They're into the laptops, the phones, that's their thing," she said, noting that they see other kids have the latest items and she knows she can't afford them. 

What's her biggest need? "I need a new oven, it's kind of on the blink. I'm looking into that going to different stores, but I'm just trying to make it, day by day, as best I can," she said.

Last year, she received help from a local food pantry with Thanksgiving dinner, but this year missed the deadline to do so.

"I figured they were going to come around again, so that's why I didn't make any calls, but then I realized it was getting later and no one had come around. I tried to call, but by then it was too late," she said.

She's hoping Operation Holiday can help make the holidays a little easier and said she hopes she can pay it forward next year or after.

"I'm not one to say 'Oh, I need this, I need that.' I'm appreciative, whatever someone can do. I'm appreciative," said Kate, which is not her real name.

"You never know what's in store. You've just gotta keep pushing and pushing, and making the best of what you can do," 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 Reporter, 307 Derstine Ave., Lansdale PA 19446 or to The Pottstown Mercury, Attn: Operation Holiday, PO Box 1181, Pottstown, PA 19464.

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.

Names and donations will be published in the newspaper as they are received. Please note if you want your donation to be listed as "Anonymous" for publication or if you would like it listed as "In memory of ..." or "In honor of ..." Donations that do not include a notation will be published with the name of the donor as written on the check.

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