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Operation Holiday: Single mother struggles with grandmother’s death, child’s health issues

Sharon hasn’t had much time to think about the holidays or what presents she needs to get for her three children.

The 30-year-old single mother, whose name was changed to protect her privacy, “hope(s) to give them a good Christmas,” but added her three children are pretty “low maintenance” when it comes to gifts.

Sharon earns her living making car parts, but said it’s been difficult to make ends meet. She said she previously suffered a medical injury that put her out of work for 1.5 months.

“I went from not needing food stamps to desperately needing food stamps,” she said.

Her injuries left her unable to cheer on her 13-year-old daughter’s soccer games, but she stressed that her kids are her world.

“(I’m) very, very blessed to have understanding children who know I can’t be in many places at once,” she said.

“I’ve always said ‘I’m not able to give a whole lot a whole lotta,’” she said but added she has strived to instill in her kids to “make sure you mentally are at a place where you are able to get to whatever you desire for yourself.”

“I want them to be better than me,” she said.

It’s been a difficult time for Sharon as she grieved the loss of her beloved grandmother earlier this year and continued managing the health issues of her 9-year-old son, Joseph, who “was in kidney failure.”

While she said he received a transplant two years ago, he’ll “need multiple transplants throughout his life,” and has struggled with continued health issues. Sharon said “his last procedure was not a good one” and he’s “starting to chemically reject” the kidney.

But she said she’s grateful to programs like Operation Holiday to take something off her plate.

“If there is one thing that they have taught me is happiness is the cherry on top, and peace is what we should all be striving for, and that is what this program does,” Sharon said, stressing that it “gives peace of mind” to people in need.

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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