Single mother struggles with grandmother’s death, child’s health problems

Sharon hasn’t had much time to think about the holidays or what gifts to get her three children.

The 30-year-old single mother, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, “hopes to give them a good Christmas”, but added that her three children are quite “low maintenance” when it comes to a question about gifts.

Sharon makes a living making car parts, but said it’s hard to make ends meet. She said she had previously suffered a medical injury that put her out of work for 1.5 months.

“I went from not needing food stamps to desperately needing food stamps,” she said.

Her injuries have left her unable to cheer on her 13-year-old daughter’s soccer games, but she stressed that her children are her world.

“(I’m) very, very blessed to have understanding kids who know I can’t be in many places at once,” she said.

“I’ve always said, ‘I can’t give a lot and a lot,'” she said, but added that she strives to instill in her children “to make sure that mentally you’re in a place where you can achieve anything you want for yourself you are.”

“I want them to be better than me,” she said.

It was a difficult time for Sharon as she mourned the loss of her beloved grandmother earlier this year and continued to deal with the health issues of her 9-year-old son Joseph, who “was in kidney failure.”

While she said he received a transplant two years ago, he “will need multiple transplants throughout his life” and is battling ongoing health issues. Sharon said his “last procedure was not good” and he was “starting to chemically reject” the kidney.

But she said she’s grateful for programs like Operation Holiday to take something off her plate.

“If there’s one thing they’ve taught me, it’s that happiness is the cherry on top, and peace is what we should all strive for, and that’s what this program does,” Sharon said, stressing that she “gives peace of mind” to people in need.

Through Operation Holiday, gift cards to area grocery stores are provided to each family for food so they can purchase holiday dinner supplies as well as pantry staples. Weis Markets is a partner of Operation Holiday and has helped with food purchases and gift cards.

Gift cards for each child in the program age 16 or younger are purchased through Boscov’s and distributed in partnership with referral agencies so families can purchase gifts of their choice.

Operation Holiday started in 1991 at The Mercury in Pottstown to help families going through hard times provide something for their children during the holidays. The program’s mission is to have food on the table and gifts under the tree when Christmas morning rolls around.

Now in its 33rd year, the program serves thousands of families in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties, expanding its reach in recent years to include communities served by the Reading Eagle, The Times Herald, The Reporter and Daily Local News.

More than $91,000 in donations last year provided food and gifts for 451 children and 199 families, plus cash donations for food pantries in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.

This year, Operation Holiday is partnering with 19 agencies in the tri-county area. Agencies have targeted 165 families with 419 children for gifts and food.

There is no overhead with Operation Holiday and all funds stay local. Funds are collected and audited in a non-profit foundation account managed by MediaNews Group employees who volunteer their time.

Operation Praznik does not accept families who are not referred by an agency. Operation Holiday is funded solely by reader donations. All contributions are tax deductible.

HOW TO DONATE

Online donations are accepted in a secure portal in partnership with TriCounty Community Network. Visit https://tcnetwork.org/ and click on the link for Operation Holiday.

Contributions can be sent by check payable to Operation Holiday to PO Box 1181, Pottstown PA 19464; The Reporter, 307 Derstine Ave., Lansdale PA 19446; or to Operation Holiday, 1440 Lacrosse Ave., Reading, PA 19607.

The names of all contributors are published in participating newspapers when donations are received. Please note whether a contribution should be designated as anonymous or given in honor or memory of someone.

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