It’s been a roller-coaster of a week for Operation Santa Claus, in what is already typically a busy week for volunteers. On Monday, volunteers arrived to find someone had broken in and stolen thousands of dollars in gift cards and presents purchased for children in need. It was a bad start to the week, needless to say.
Things got better from there, though. The warehouse was bustling as sponsors shuffled in and out dropping off gifts, and volunteers logged and sorted thousands of packages. When news of the robbery broke, the community responded with donations big and small, helping to blunt any impact the robbery might have had on the children.
Then, on Thursday came word that two were arrested and charged in the robbery. We cannot thank the NH State Police and Concord Police enough for their diligent efforts.
This year, the program will help 3,000 children who otherwise would have gone without. The enormity of that undertaking — made possible thanks to our sponsors, donors and volunteers — vastly overshadows the bad actions of a few. Thanks to you, we were able to overcome and deliver on the mission we’ve been delivering on for 55 years. Thank you all.
Community Responds After WMUR Report
With less than a month until Operation Santa Claus delivery day, the situation looked dire. Though OSC had found sponsors for thousands of children, more than 400 still needed help.
OSC put out a plea for help in the SEA News, which caught the attention of WMUR-TV. The station broadcast a short feature, which drew a response from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. The foundation donated $4,000 to sponsor the remaining children.
Linda Farrell, a Chapter 1 member and the chair of the Operation Santa Claus Committee, said OSC is truly a community effort that depends on its volunteers and donations big and small.
“We couldn’t succeed without help from caring people and organizations across the state,” Farrell said. “We’re incredibly appreciative of this donation from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, which will help hundreds of children.”
“We also want to thank WMUR-TV for getting the news out,” Farrell said. You can see the WMUR report here.
There are other large donations — the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation has donated $5,000 and Longhorn Steakhouse has raised significant money each of the last few years — and many groups as a whole collectively sponsor hundreds of children. Together, with the people who donate a few dollars or sponsor just one child, the community comes together to help make the holiday season just a bit brighter for children and families in need.
As of Thursday, all children who needed sponsors will get presents to open on Christmas Day, just as they have for all of Operation Santa Claus’ 55 years of operation. Volunteer help is needed on drop-off days of Nov. 30, and Dec. 1 and 2, as well as the distribution day of Nov. 10. If you can volunteer some time on one of those days, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more about OSC online at www.seiu1984.org/operationsantaclaus.
Workers at the Department of Environmental Services are in the midst of their annual fundraising campaign for Operation Santa Claus, and they’ve got a big event next week.
The popular Chili Bowl returns, but this year there’s a new wrinkle: Chowder. The Chili Bowl/Chowda Fest will take place in the Atrium at 29 Hazen Drive on Wednesday, Nov. 4, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. For a donation of $5, you can sample the great chili and chowder offerings. You’re encouraged to bring your own bowl and spoon (though they’ll have some on hand in case you forget).
Maria Michel, who’s a member of the DES Operation Santa Claus committee, said they’re looking to continue the success of the Chili Bowl.
“Last year, we were able to raise $330,” she said. “Overall, we raised around $3,100 and were able to help 81 children.”
In addition to the chili/chowder event, they’re holding silent auctions for an Indian dinner, a guided kayak fishing trip and and an ocean voyage boat tour. Bidding on all three opens Friday. They’re also raffling off themed baskets and holding a 50/50 raffle. You can see the full schedule of events and offerings here. If you have any questions, Maria Michel said you can email her at email@example.com.
All in all, the outstanding community effort at DES allows them to help many children who otherwise would have to go without on Christmas.
SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members at the Department of Safety work all year round to raise money for Operation Santa Claus. The payoff of all that hard work comes at year’s end when the children receive their gifts.
The members of Chapter 40 held their third media sale of the year last Friday, and organizer Janice-Ann Sinclair declared it a success.
“I would like to thank all that came out to our third media sale to benefit Operation Santa Claus,” she said. “I would like to state that the Chapter 40 Book Sale was another success. We ended up making a total of $218.75. That is two more kids that we can take.”
Many SEA/SEIU Local 1984 chapters volunteer to sponsor children, and fundraising helps cover some of that cost (though many members spend their own money on gifts). In addition, the Operation Santa Claus Committee is always working to raise money itself (for example, the ongoing iPad raffle). That money goes into OSC’s coffers and is used to buy gifts for any children who don’t have sponsors.
As is always the case, Sinclair said there were plenty of thank yous to go around.
“I would like to thank all the volunteers that help me with setting up, cleaning up and the day of the book sale,” she said.
Those volunteers include Chapter 1 — and OSC Committee — members:
Linda Farrell, Jane Lyman, Charlene Clark and Carol Beaudoin.
Chapter 40 members:
Kimberly Rumrill, Sandra Champagne and Susan Faith – “Susan, thank you for all the puzzles that you donated. They were a success,” Sinclair noted.
“Also, thank you to Roger Ordway and Michael Cutting for bringing the books over from the warehouse and picking them up to go back,” she said.
Members at the Fish & Game Department and the Department of Environmental Services donated books and puzzles to the effort.
“Finally, thank you to the supervisors for allowing your workers to volunteer on helping out,” Sinclair said. “Without the help that I get from people that donate books & donating their time I could not do it without them. I appreciate it very much.”
When Kristina Provencher, a working mom from Nashua, first heard about Operation Santa Claus, she knew she had to get involved with the program in some way.
Kristina is a consultant for Usborne Books, an organization that publishes quality children’s books appropriate from infancy through young adulthood. She has come up with a unique fundraiser that combines her love for books and supporting OSC. She has created a Facebook event where she will be selling two books she thinks would be ideal for children who will be gift recipients of OSC packages this holiday season.
Kristina hopes to bring in enough donations for her to provide 50 books with accompanying stuffed characters from the stories. Each combination is available for $25. In addition, Kristina is donating her commission on these sales during the campaign, which ends October 31, 2015.
The first book is Jonathan James and the What If Monster. Little Jonathan is plagued by a little green monster whenever he finds himself in a new situation. He hears his Whatif Monster asking all kinds of questions to stop him from trying something new: What if it’s scary? What if they laugh? What if it’s hard? Finally, Jonathan James has some questions of his own: What if they don’t? What if it isn’t? What then?
The second book is Cuddle Bear, the unforgettable hero with hugs for everyone! If, like lion, panda, penguin or elephant, you’re feeling sad or lonely, never fear! Cuddle Bear has plenty of hugs to go around.
It doesn’t matter if you’re big or tall, short or small, there’s one for every size!
Both of these books will come with a plush stuffed version of the main character.
If you would like to contribute to this fundraiser, please contact Kristina Provencher at her bookstore at www.facebook.com/kristinasbookstore/events or contact Beth D’Ovidio at 271-3411 x105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The members of Chapter 40, at the Department of Safety, held another successful fundraiser on Friday to raise money for Operation Santa Claus.
This is Chapter 40’s second media sale this year. Members use the proceeds from the sales to sponsor children through Operation Santa Claus. Janice Ann Sinclair, who organized the sale, thanked all who got involved.
“I would like to thank everyone who came out to our second media sale to benefit Operation Santa Claus,” Sinclair said, adding that it was a success. “We ended up making a total of $229.25. That is two more kids that we can take.”
Operation Santa Claus is run by members of SEA/SEIU Local 1984, and every year the effort provides Christmas gifts for several thousand children who wouldn’t otherwise have any. Fundraising is a key component, and it allows the organization to have a large impact every year.
Sinclair said the media sale wouldn’t happen without help from many different people.
“I would like thank all the volunteers that help me with setting up, cleaning up, and on the day of the book sale,” she said.
“Without the help that I get from people that donate books & donating their time I could not do it without them,” Sinclair said. “I appreciate it very much.”
Specifically, she thanked Chapter 1 members Linda Farrell, Jane Lyman, Charlene Clark and Carol Beaudoin, and Chapter 40 member Elizabeth Champney. She added thanks to Richard Nadeau, Roger Ordway and Douglas Bailey for transporting books from and back to the warehouse. Also, she thanked workers from several state departments who donated books toward their sale, including Fish & Game, NH Retirement Security and Environmental Services.
Congratulations to SEA member Brenda Therrien, from the Department of Safety, who won the Operation Santa Claus raffle for an iPad Air. Gov. Maggie Hassan drew the winning ticket on Thursday, Dec. 11, at OSC’s Delivery Day.
Operation Santa Claus Chair Linda Farrell presented Therrien with her prize on Friday, Dec. 12. Therrien said she’ll make good use of the speedy tablet, as her computer just died.
Congrats again to Brenda, and thank you to all who purchased tickets for the raffle.
After months of hard work, the gifts are finally on their way to deserving children. Operation Santa Claus volunteers, along with National Guard Troops and Gov. Maggie Hassan, loaded thousands of gifts into trucks headed to Berlin and Nashua, Keene and Portsmouth, and locations in between.
Operation Santa Claus is a massive undertaking, involving so many people all coming together to help brighten the holidays for children around the state.
Thank you to you all for making this program work, and delivering a merry Christmas to thousands of children. Merry Christmas to you all!
Tuesday was the deadline to drop off gifts for Operation Santa Claus. The OSC headquarters on Stickney Avenue in Concord were buzzing as people dropped off carloads … truckloads … even busloads (in the case of Bishop Brady High School) of gifts. Volunteers now have a week to sort through, and double-check, all of those donations to make sure they go to the right place.
The gifts will be delivered to DHHS district offices all over the state next Thursday. As the process draws to a close, we again need to thank everyone involved in the program. From the DHHS caseworkers to the volunteers to the people who sponsor the children, know that this couldn’t happen without you. Thank you.