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Operation Holiday: Woman escaping the grip of domestic violence

Kayla remembers the joy of those mornings, of waking up early and running to the Christmas tree to see what Santa had left her.

“I just remember growing up I always used to like opening presents on Christmas,” the 27-year-old woman said. “It’s something kids enjoy.”

Kayla, whose name has been changed to protect her family’s privacy, wants to provide that same holiday glee for her own daughter. But with the way things have been going, she might not be able to do that for the little 4-year-old.

Things have been rough for Kayla over the past few years. The single mother has been the victim of repeated incidents of domestic abuse, and fleeing from it has often left her temporarily homeless.

The most recent incident also left her injured, forcing her to get hand surgery in September.

“I’m just starting to recover,” Kayla said. “Now I’m just starting to pick up the pieces and get my life together.”

The turbulence Kayla has faced over the past few years has had a financial impact on her. She’s been in and out of work, finding it hard to hold down a steady job as she was in and out of homelessness.

Right now, she’s staying with a friend. But because she doesn’t own a car, she’s had to look for work close enough that she can walk there or ride the bus.

So far, she hasn’t found anything.

“It’s tough, I’m struggling financially,” she said. “I’d love to give my daughter a nice Christmas, but I can’t buy her toys or clothes.”

Kayla needs a helping hand. And providing that is exactly 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 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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