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Operation Holiday: Mom struggles to pay the bills through the holidays

Michelle is worried but thankful. After all it’s Christmastime.

The mother of three, ages 20, 19 and 2, works as manager of a donut shop, but her paycheck still isn’t cutting it and all the bills still don’t get paid.

Michelle’s name was changed to protect her family’s privacy.

There will likely be no presents, and no tree to put them under, on December 25.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Michelle said. “I’m more worried about paying rent and having a roof over our heads than buying presents.

But Michelle is thankful during this holiday season. Her two-year old daughter attends subsidized day care at a rate which gives mom a chance to work.

“I helps me pay my bills more than if I wasn’t working,” she said. “I can work because of it and my daughter is able to interact with other children and learn things that I can’t teach at home.

“She loves other kids her age, loves playing and loves people.”

The two-year old loves receiving and opening gifts and the older children understand that money is tight.

“My older daughters know they won’t get anything,” she said. “It’s hard.”

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 non-profit 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 PO 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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