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Operation Santa Claus has new partner to help needy families

In the early 1980s, the Tribune-
Review’s Operation Santa Claus started as an idea in the newspaper’s editorial department.

“At the time, George Beidler was the Greensburg editor, and he kind of spearheaded the whole thing to get it off the ground,” said retired Tribune-Review General Manager Art McMullen, who has been part of the holiday drive for more than two decades, helping to provide holiday meals to families who are struggling financially.

This year’s Operation Santa Claus campaign was officially announced on Halloween, and this year the groups involved have a new partner in Pittsburgh-based 412 Food Rescue.

“There were times we would serve 9,000 or 10,000 families,” said
Operation Santa Claus Chairperson Lindsay Bock. “But unfortunately, fundraising has gotten harder over the years, and we were forced to reevaluate our service area.”

There also was the challenge of the covid-19 pandemic, which added extra layers of health and safety considerations along some of the same supply-chain issues that are affecting international sales markets today.

Money for the food drive is primarily raised in November and December and is used to purchase groceries at cost from partner Shop’n Save.

In years past, volunteers would pack those groceries and take them to local Salvation Army centers for distribution along with new and gently used children’s books, a Trib coloring book and a pack of crayons.

“Last year, because of the pandemic situation, we ended up not packing the bags,” Bock said. “We gave the Salvation Army units cases of food, basically all the items that would be in the bags, and then the Salvation Army was able to pack it up and distribute it.”

This year, half of the Salvation Army units will receive food to pack, but the other half, which are located near one of the participating Shop’n Save stores, will receive gift certificates to distribute.

“The certificate doesn’t go as far as the food bag goes, but it’s what we’re able to do to try and help serve the community,” Bock said.

New partner 412 Food Rescue will help with program outreach and with recruiting volunteers to help.

“412 Food Rescue is happy to join forces with a great organization like Operation Santa Claus,” said Darren Hartman of 412 Food Rescue. “Our mission is to serve those who are food insecure, and what better time than the holidays to do just that.”

A $20 contribution will provide a meal to a family of four, and there are several ways to donate.

• Purchase $1 or $5 donation cards from a local participating Shop’n Save store

• Order a “Letter from Santa” for your child by Nov. 30 at EverybodyShops.com, with proceeds going to “Operation Santa Claus”

• Visit OSC.triblive.com for several ways to donate

• See any Trib Total Media publication for additional details

“We hope to raise $100,000 this year, enough to deliver complete holiday meals to 5,000 families across five counties and served by more than two dozen Salvation Army units and corps,” Bock said. “We need everyone’s help to reach that goal; no donation is too small.”

For more, see OSC.triblive.com.

Balance Forward:

$0

Wishing a blessed Christmas and New Year to All – Mark, Joan and family$100

In memory of Christopher DiBiasi…Mike, Holly, Michael, Adam and Jason$25

In loving memory of my parents, Anna Mary and Russell Upholster Sr. from their daughter$20

Daily total: $145

Total to Date: $145

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .



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