Thanks to the readers of Opération Vacances

It’s our turn to thank you.

Readers of this newspaper and its related publications and websites in the tri-county area have overwhelmed us with generosity in responding to our Operation Holiday program to provide gifts and food to families in need this Christmas.

Fundraising for this year’s campaign is $ 111,575 and donations continue to flow.

The highest amount raised previously in the 31 years of the program was just over $ 70,000, and this has only happened twice. Typically the amounts are between $ 40,000 and $ 50,000.

Certainly, the program that started at the Mercury in Pottstown has been expanded in recent years to include a broader reach in Montgomery, Chester and now Berks counties. This was the first year the Reading Eagle had participated, and this larger audience helped generate donations.

But there is more at work here than geography.

Operation Holidays is funded solely by contributions from readers. And with a few exceptions, donations come from individuals, not corporations or foundations. They come in the form of checks, cash, credit cards through an online portal, and sometimes loose change.

Readers of print newspapers often cut out the story that inspired them and put it in the envelope with their check. Many this year cut the Operation Vacation print advertising that accompanied the stories, making sure we knew their payment was for Operation Vacation.

Some write notes thanking us for giving them the chance to give. Others send a special wish for a story that touched their hearts.

We give donors the option to designate a gift as a keepsake or tribute, and many of them do, some giving us a full list with a dollar amount for each grandchild in their family or each being. dear lost.

Those of us who work with this program – reporters who call parents to hear stories of need, organizers who work with liaison officers at agencies who refer families and distribute gift cards, editors who award , edit and schedule the stories – are struck each year by the warmth and generosity of our communities.

We are also reminded of the need.

Operation Holiday is on a mission to provide food and gifts so that children will not be hungry or without gifts for the holidays their families are observing. The mission is for those who have gone through difficult times, knowing that the hardships families face can happen to any of us through illness, job loss or disaster.

In a year like this, as a pandemic continues to affect health and livelihoods and a hurricane has wreaked havoc, destroying homes in some of our cities’ most vulnerable neighborhoods, the reality is hardship hit near us.

And you, our readers, have responded.

Operation Holidays funds this year provided $ 175 grocery gift cards for 145 families and $ 100 gift cards to purchase gifts for 381 children. In addition, cash donations will be made in January to a dozen pantries across the three counties to help purchase food during the winter months.

The managers of these pantries and the families who received food and gifts usually send us notes thanking us for giving them hope when they are struggling to cope. But we are just the messengers, the storytellers who strive to inspire.

Gratitude is yours, readers who support us and allow us to continue to report to our communities on a daily basis and at this time of year to be the link that spreads kindness.

Operation Vacations is our privilege, and we are honored both by the families who share their stories of need with us and by the readers who open their hearts.

From all of us to you: Thank you