The holidays are usually a season of joy, but for those who are struggling, it can also be a difficult time.
As the ongoing pandemic continues to upend daily life in various ways and rising inflation has driven up the prices of basic goods and services, the less fortunate may struggle to find ways to celebrate.
Many families across the country and locally in South Chester County are struggling to cope with such hardship.
Fortunately, philanthropic organizations like the Garage Community & Youth Center are there to lend a hand.
The Garage is an after-school and youth development program for middle and high school students in Kennett Square and West Grove.
Julia, whose name has been changed for this article, and her children have benefited from the Garage’s after-school programs.
Julia lives in Avondale and her four children have all attended programs at the Garage. “It’s very good for them,” she says. “They learn there, they get help with their homework. They want to be there.
“The Garage is a big help.”
Julia is currently not working, but her husband is working, and she said that despite some difficulties, her work is going well at the moment.
She said that although they are struggling in some ways, they still love to celebrate the Christmas season.
“The truth is, we’re trying,” she said.
Sara, whose name has been changed for this story, lives in Kennett Square with her three children.
She said the Garage programs have helped her and her children, especially since they don’t have internet at home. At the Garage, her children can connect to the internet to work on school projects and do homework, she said.
Sara said that even with all the problems in the world, the holidays are always a good time for her and her family.
Now in its 31st year, Operation Holiday has provided a brighter holiday season for thousands of families with children. More than $70,000 in reader donations last year allowed the program to provide food and gifts to more than 200 children in need and make additional donations in January to 10 area food pantries in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.
Operation Holiday’s mission is to ensure that children in local communities have food to eat and gifts to open, no matter how poor or difficult their family circumstances are.
This year, Operation Holiday has partnered with 19 agencies in the tri-county area. The agencies referred 144 families with 375 children.
There are no overhead costs with Operation Holiday and all funds remain local. Funds are raised and audited in a non-profit foundation account managed by MediaNews Group staff.
Gift cards for area grocery stores are provided to each family for food so they can buy the fixings for a holiday dinner as well as staples for the pantry. Weis Markets is an Operation Holiday partner and has helped with food purchases and gift cards.
Additional gift cards for each child in the program aged 16 or under are purchased through Boscov’s and distributed in partnership with referring agencies.
Opération Vacances 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 accepted through a secure portal in partnership with TriCounty Community Network. Visit https://tcnetwork.org/ and click on the link for Operation Holiday.
Contributions may 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 participating newspapers as donations are received. Please note if a contribution should be designated as anonymous or given in tribute or in memory of someone.