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Operation Care prepares for Christmas toy drive

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Will provide toys and food to families in need

By Glen Jennings

 The Spirit of Saint Nick will be alive at Operation Care, but Executive Director Jennifer Decker said she could still use a few elves.

On Dec. 11, the organization will host its annual Community Christmas event, where it will donate to a selection of needy families in the Shelby County area.

“We have about three hundred and fifty children who have been identified by the school system as being children from limited financial resources,” Decker said. “We provide toys, scarves, socks, gloves, blankets, literature about the true meaning of Christmas and, for each family represented, we provide a box of food for Christmas dinner.”

Decker said the families have already been selected through an application process, and those families will be treated not only to gifts, but will also get the chance to visit with Santa.

“Every year, we give gifts that people have donated. There have been a couple of toy drives,” she said. “They’re name-brand, super nice…Just super toys.”

Decker said Operation Care chooses its families that are below the poverty line, giving them a Christmas that they may not have been able to afford otherwise.

“It’s people who are financially disadvantaged,” she says. “Their income is at the poverty level.”

Despite the premium selection of toys that Decker has waiting for families in need, she said the organization could still use some help.

First, today, on Dec. 5, Decker said she and her team will be preparing bags to distribute.

“We are meeting here at 5 o’clock to assemble the toys and the bags, the hats, gloves, all of that,” she said. “We need about twenty volunteers.”

And for the big day itself, Decker said Operation Care could still use a few of Santa’s helpers to keep things running smoothly.

Decker invited the community to get creative in finding ways to volunteer with Operation Care’s Community Christmas celebration.

“I like to tell people what we do and ask them how they might help because it always amazes me what they come up with,” she said. “We have a volunteer who likes to organize things, so she has come here and she has organized all the toys that were donated to us.”

Decker said that the volunteers who work at the event would be helping to create a happier Christmas for families around the county.

“People in Shelby County don’t want children to wake up on Christmas morning without any gifts or for people to not have Christmas dinner,” Decker said. “We feel like it’s important that Operation Care…to give a hand up to people in that situation.”  

To learn more or volunteer, call Decker at 502-773-2326.