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Operation Holiday: Homeownership brings financial hardship for family

After years of struggling to support her family, Magdalena was finally able buy a home of her own last year.

Closing on the house was the culmination of decades of hard work since immigrating from her native Mexico 25 years ago with two of her children.

One of her five children, Tamara, said her mother worked as many as three jobs to support her family. About four years ago, she tried to start her own business, but the timing, right around the COVID-19 shutdown, was terrible.

Tamara, who has a son with autism, resides with her mother. Two of Magdalena’s other children also live there.

While getting a home of her own was a dream realized, it has also wrought financial hardship on the family.

With an oil-fueled furnace it includes big heating bills, Tamara explained. It’s also in need of repairs, most pressing of which is a roof that leaks.

“Most of her kids are trying to help her out,” Tamara said. “She hasn’t been feeling great healthwise.”

Any help from Operation Holiday would be appreciated by her family, Tamara said.

Magdalena has long been on a giver of help, never turning away those who need help, Tamara said. She recalled that her mother once took in a woman who was a recent immigrant into her home for about a month while working to get assistance for her.

“She has a big heart,” Tamara said.

Now she’s about to be on the receiving end, thanks to some big-hearted readers.

Operation Holiday

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 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 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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