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OPERATION HOLIDAY: Breast cancer sidelines single mom with 6 kids

Charlene was making ends meet, despite having six children to feed and clothe.

Then the news came in June — breast cancer.

“I had to have a breast removed and they said I couldn’t work for a whole year until I heal up,” she told MediaNews Group.

Charlene, a single mom whose name has been changed here to protect her privacy and that of her family, had been working for her brother who has a cleaning business.

“It was pretty steady doing cleaning and clean-outs of houses,” she said, “we were doing OK. When he called, we came.”

Charlene hopes to get back to that work, as physical as it is, as soon as she can.

In the meantime, she and her household are getting by on public assistance, food stamps, and child support for one of her six children who are 10, 9, 7, 5, 4 and 1. “It’s just me and my kids,” Charlene said.

That does not leave much room in the budget for a Christmas tree or presents beneath it, but she is hoping to pull it off somehow.

“My kids are not really picky. They’re still kids being kids, so it’s things like sports or Barbies or things like that,” she said. “We’ll make a way somehow.”

Now, one of the ways they can make it is with help from Operation Holiday and generous readers like you.

Through Operation Holiday, gift cards to area grocery stores are provided to each family for food, so that they can purchase the fixings for a holiday dinner as well as staples for the pantry. Weis Markets is a partner with Operation Holiday and has assisted with food purchases and gift cards.

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 so that families can purchase gifts of their choice.

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 food on the table and gifts under the tree when Christmas morning comes.

Now in its 33rd year, the program has served thousands of families throughout Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties, expanding its reach in recent years to include communities served by Reading Eagle, The Times Herald, The Reporter, and Daily Local News.

More than $91,000 in donations last year provided food and gifts for 451 children and 199 families, plus cash donations to food pantries in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.

This year, Operation Holiday has partnered with 19 agencies in the tri-county area. Agencies have referred 165 families with 419 children for gifts and food.

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 who volunteer their time.

Operation Holiday does not accept families who have not been referred by an agency. Operation Holiday is funded solely by reader contributions. All contributions are tax-deductible.


Online donations are being accepted in a secure portal in partnership with TriCounty Community Network. Visit and click on the link for Operation Holiday.

Contributions can be mailed with checks payable to Operation Holiday to PO Box 1181, Pottstown PA 19464; The Reporter, 307 Derstine Ave., Lansdale PA 19446; or to Operation Holiday, 1440 Lacrosse Ave., Reading, PA 19607.

The names of all contributors are published in the participating newspapers as donations are received. Please note whether a contribution should be designated as anonymous or given in tribute or in memory of someone.

Source: Berkshire mont

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