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Operation Holiday: Working single mom appreciates help this holiday season

Amelia wants her 2-year-old daughter to see her smile whenever they’re together, but financial stress sometimes makes that simple goal hard to attain.

The 36-year-old single mother works full time and relies on her income alone, with some support from a safety network that includes subsidized day care and subsidized housing.

Her SNAP benefits – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – were discontinued because she no longer met the income eligibility criteria.

Child support? She gets none from her daughter’s father, who is in the wind, she said.

Amelia gets housing assistance through Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities. The organization began a partnership with Your Way Home Montgomery County and Pottstown Housing Resource Center. YWH’s Rapid Re-housing (RRH) program is a housing-focused case management and financial assistance program to help individuals achieve long-term, stable housing.

“I am very grateful for the help I get,” Amelia said. ‘It’s just me, working full time. Even though I get help with my housing, and even though day care is subsidized, after paying my share I’m really down to like nothing.”

She can’t rely on much support from her family because her extended family consists of her sister and mother, who’s health is failing. Amelia and her sister take turns visiting their mother to make sure she has everything she needs.

If Amelia wishes for anything for herself this Christmas, it’s an easing of the stress from constantly walking the tightrope of stress – financial and otherwise.

“I want my daughter to see a happy mom with a smile on my face,” she said. “That’s my goal.”

That’s the idea behind Operation Holiday. Amelia was referred to the program by her Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities caseworker.

Operation Holiday

Started in 1991 at The Mercury in Pottstown to help families going through tough times provide something for their children during the holidays.

Now in its 32nd 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 $122,000 in donations last year provided food and gifts for 379 children and cash donations to 13 food pantries in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.

This year, Operation Holiday has partnered with 22 agencies in the tri-county area. Agencies have referred 144 families with 375 children for gifts and food and an additional 34 families for food.

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 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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