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Operation Santa Claus: Food for the soul

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Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 8:51 p.m.

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains immortal.” The quotation from American lawyer and journalist Albert Pike appropriately applies to the spirit of giving embraced each year by Trib Total Media's Operation Santa Claus.

Since 1984, the entirely voluntary effort with Shop 'n Save and the Salvation Army has supplied complete Christmas dinners to hundreds of thousands of needy families throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. All funds raised by individuals, families, community groups and businesses go to purchasing groceries for meals delivered by local Salvation Army units.

For the children, there are coloring books along with new and gently used storybooks.

Powering this sleigh full of seasonal cheer is a small army of dedicated volunteers who pack the groceries and load the trucks.

This year's goal is $120,000, which will provide holiday dinners to more than 7,000 families in five counties.

And talk about a bargain: Just $17.25 will provide a full meal for a family of four. You can make a donation in the name of a recipient on your gift list. Or donors can remain anonymous. Simply fill out the coupon that appears daily in the Trib.

Bringing together families that otherwise would have no Christmas meal, no holiday cheer, is nourishment for the soul. And unlike the newest must-have electronic doodad, that's a gift that will never become obsolete.

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