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Operation Holiday: Father of 2 struggling with finances following long unemployment

Justin has never been in this situation.

The longtime construction worker is accustomed to bringing home a paycheck that can support his family. He was able to provide a warm place to stay, he was able to put food on the table, he was able to buy clothes and toys for his two children.

But all that changed recently when he was laid off from his job.

Suddenly, Justin faced insecurity. Money quickly became tight and he worried about how he was going to keep taking care of his family.

“When you’re only getting $500 a week in unemployment, it makes you wonder how you’re supposed to make ends meet,” said Justin, whose name has been changed to protect his family’s privacy. “We found ourselves in a tough spot.”

Without knowing when he might return to work, Justin decided to start the process of applying for food assistance from the state. He went online to fill out the forms but had no clue where to start. It was something completely new to him.

So that’s when he called Helping Harvest, the organization that collects, purchases and distributes food to feed the hungry in Berks and Schuylkill counties.

“The people there were so helpful,” he said. “They took the time to basically walk me through the whole process. It was so nice to know that people care.”

People like Justin are the reason that places like Helping Harvest exist. And supporting those types of places is what Operation Holiday is all about.

Operation Holiday

Operation Holiday was started in 1991 at The Mercury in Pottstown to help families going through tough times provides 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 nonprofit foundation account managed by staff of MediaNews Group who volunteer their time.

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 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.

How to donate

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

Contributions can be mailed with checks payable to Operation Holiday to P.O. Box 1181, Pottstown, PA 19464; The Reporter, 307 Derstine Ave., Lansdale, PA 19446; 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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