Amelia wants her 2-year-old daughter to see her smile every time they’re together, but financial stress sometimes makes that simple goal difficult to achieve.
The 36-year-old single mother works full-time and relies on her income alone, with some support from a safety net that includes subsidized day care and subsidized housing.
Her SNAP benefits — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — were terminated because she no longer met the income eligibility criteria.
Alimony? She gets nothing from her daughter’s father, who is in the wind, she said.
Amelia receives housing assistance through the Pottstown Faith Community Cluster. The organization began a partnership with Your Way Home Montgomery County and the Pottstown Housing Resource Center. YWH’s Rapid Rehousing (RRH) program is a case management and financial assistance program focused on housing to help people obtain long-term, stable housing.
“I’m very grateful for the help I’m getting,” Amelia said. “It’s just me, working full time. Even though I get help with housing, and even though the daycare is subsidized, after paying my share, I’m really left with nothing.’
She cannot rely on her family for support because her extended family consists of her sister and mother, whose health is deteriorating. Amelia and her sister take turns visiting their mother to make sure she has everything she needs.
If there’s one thing Amelia wants for herself this Christmas, it’s to relieve the stress of constantly walking the tightrope of stress – financial and otherwise.
“I want my daughter to see a happy mom with a smile on her face,” she said. “That’s my goal.”
This is the idea behind the “Holiday” operation. Amelia was directed to participate in the program by her co-worker of the Potsdam cluster of religious communities.
Started in 1991 in Mercury in Pottstown to help struggling families provide something for their children during the holidays.
Now in its 32nd year, the program serves thousands of families in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties, expanding its reach in recent years to include communities served Reading Eagle, The Times Herald, The Reporterand Daily local news.
More than $122,000 in donations last year provided meals and gifts for 379 children, as well as cash donations to 13 food pantries in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.
This year, Operation Holiday is partnering with 22 agencies in three counties. Agencies sent 144 families with 375 children for gifts and food and another 34 families for food.
Gift cards to area grocery stores are given to each family for food so they can purchase fillings for a holiday dinner as well as pantry staples. Weis Markets is an Operation Holiday partner and helps with food purchases and gift cards.
Gift cards for each child aged 16 and over are purchased through Boscov’s and distributed in collaboration with referral agencies so families can purchase gifts of their choice.
Operation “Holiday” is financed exclusively at the expense of readers. All contributions are tax-deductible.
How to donate
Online donations are accepted through a secure portal in partnership with TriCounty Community Network. Visit https://tcnetwork.org/ and click on the Operation Holiday link.
Contributions can be mailed with checks made payable to Operation Holiday to PO Box 1181, Pottstown PA 19464; The Reporter, 307 Derstine Ave., Lansdale PA 19446; Operation Holiday, 1440 Lacrosse Ave., Reading, PA 19607.
The names of all participants are published in participating newspapers as donations are received. Please note whether the contribution should be marked as anonymous or made in honor or memory of someone.