Saint Andrews – For the past 17 years, Operation Christmas Joy has ensured no child in Charlotte County has to go without at Christmas. The mission of this organization is to raise funds to ensure that all children enjoy Christmas, even if their parents can’t afford much themselves. Don McGee, a volunteer with Operation Christmas Joy, said more than 1,700 families and 3,500 children have been helped by the organization.
“This is for the children, to ensure that they have something under the tree at Christmas time,” said McGee. “Families are given a gift certificate or a gift card for each child, and they’re able to shop for that child to make sure that they have presents under the tree for them.”
Last Monday, McGee accepted a donation from the Tim Horton’s Smile Cookie program. The $8,877.50 donation was made by the three Tim Horton’s restaurants in Charlotte County, Saint Andrews, St. George, and St. Stephen. Manager for the St. Stephen and Saint Andrews locations Carl Dow said he is happy to be helping a charity that helps children, because it goes along with the values of the company.
All of the money raised by Operation Christmas Joy goes back into the community, to the families that need it the most. Families are often referred by various other organizations, schools, etc. The funds are given to the organization or school that makes the referral, and then they give the gift cards to the families. McGee said volunteers with Operation Christmas Joy have minimal contact with the recipients of the gift cards, with the exception of a few families that do not go through any of the other systems and contacts them directly.
“The money that we raise, 100 per cent of it goes back to the families, to the kids, in the form of gift cards of gift certificates,” said McGee. Those people that recognize the families, for instance, families in the breakfast programs and things of that nature, these are the identified families that the schools bring forth.
We do give our referrals from all of the schools in Charlotte County, including St. Stephen, Lawrence Station, Campobello, Grand Manan, St. George, Blacks Harbour, and Saint Andrews. We also get our referrals from the social development and social services, as well as the multicultural association.”
There is an age limit for children who receive Christmas gifts thanks to Operation Christmas Joy. They must be between the ages of one year and 13 years. Families who are not identified by other organizations but need help can reach out to the schools, food banks, etc., or contact Operation Christmas Joy through their website.
“Usually, we have an application in the Money Saver, although that’s not possible this year. We do have an application on our website, which is www.operationchristmasjoy.ca”