Operation Santa Claus returns to help neighbors
By Mary Pickels
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 10:17 p.m.
Helping needy families put a special holiday meal on the table has been a Trib Total Media Operation Santa Claus tradition for years.
As Americans continue to struggle with economic challenges, we have resolved to continue our mission of providing help to our neighbors who need it most.
Since 1984, volunteers for Trib Total Media's Operation Santa Claus have raised money to provide their neighbors with the ingredients for a nourishing, tasty holiday meal.
This year, Operation Santa Claus will be packing 7,090 grocery bags.
The fundraising goal is $120,000, said Lindsay Berdell, Trib Total Media's director of promotions and marketing and Operation Santa Claus president.
Families will receive all the ingredients for a festive meal, along with a $10 gift certificate redeemable for a meat item. The bags will be packed with hot cocoa, macaroni and cheese, cherry gelatin, chicken noodle soup, peaches, corn muffin mix, beef pasta dinner, corn, green beans, spaghetti, chicken rice mix, gravy, stuffing mix, peanut butter, cranberry sauce, pineapple tidbits and cookies.
The cost of providing each meal is $17.25.
While the fundraising officially kicks off today, Berdell said employees, outside organizations and readers already are lending a hand.
Independent owners and operators of Shop ‘n Save stores in the area provide the groceries at cost.
Shop ‘n Save also donated food for fundraising luncheons at Tribune-Review locations. Employees paid $4 each, purchased baked goods and participated in 50/50 raffles and Shop ‘n Save gift card drawings.
Those events raised $1,059.95 for Operation Santa Claus.
“The need keeps growing. We want to help customers in our market. Hopefully they will have a better holiday, because of what we do and Trib Total Media and the Salvation Army does,” said Chris Mintus, a merchandiser for Shop ‘n Save.
Readers may visit the Trib's online store at OSC.triblive.com to purchase a Wendell August Forge ornament, holiday cards and calendars, or a “Best Loved Holiday Favorites” cookbook. “We also offer Letters from Santa,” Berdell said.
For a $5 donation, families can receive a personalized letter from Santa for a child by submitting a request by Dec. 9. Ads will run in daily and weekly publications.
Proceeds from purchases and letters will benefit Operation Santa Claus.
The Salvation Army takes applications from people seeking assistance from Operation Santa Claus. The units then distribute the groceries to their clients in a five-county area, along with donated new and gently used books for parents to choose for their children.
Greensburg Salvation Army Capt. David Rhodes said Operation Santa Claus sign-ups have been coming in early and steadily this year.
Along with assisting those in need, the donation helps to free up the nonprofit's money for other critical needs, he said.
“They can sit with their families and have a nice Christmas meal, even if times are tough,” Rhodes said.
Starting today, each edition of the Tribune-Review will include a coupon that readers can use to make tax-deductible donations. Donors can include a brief message that will be printed, along with the amount donated. Donors can choose to remain anonymous.
As it is every year, your help is greatly appreciated.
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