With the holidays fast approaching, FCS is asking for your help in granting the holiday wishes of nearly 2,000 area children in need. The agency is collecting donations of new children’s coats, hats, gloves, toys, books, gift cards and infant necessities through Wednesday, December 13th for its holiday giving program, Operation Sleighbells.
“Our agency was started 108 years ago on the premise that no one should feel forgotten during the holidays, especially children,” explains FCS CEO Delly Beekman. “Operation Sleighbells continues that tradition by bringing the community together to make the season brighter for our neighbors in need. Granting the holiday wish of a child may not seen like much, but for the child who might not otherwise receive a gift, or the parent who cannot provide one, it’s everthing.”
Operation Sleighbells is different from many holiday programs in that it addresses the specific wishes of every child. Participating families are interviewed in early October and asked to provide the ages, sizes and gift wishes for each child. Using the lists, the agency then collects, organizes, sorts and distributes thousands of gifts to hundreds of families each year.
FCS Director of Volunteer Services Samantha White says Operation Sleighbells is an enormous undertaking that requires more than 5,000 square feet of off-site space. “For the past several years, we have been fortunate that Monmouth Racetrack has allowed us to use a portion of their Oceanport facilities to conduct Operation Sleighbells,” Samantha explains. “Without their donation of space, we would be forced to greatly reduce the number of families we serve.”
The program also relies on the generosity of dozens of corporations, businesses, schools, churches, families and other organizations who donate gifts to the program or volunteer. Karen Pennington with West Ward Pharmaceuticals in Eatontown is in charge of organizing her company’s collection drive each year. “Of all the programs we participate in each year, this is the dearest to our heart,” Karen says. In five years, West Ward has helped fulfill the holiday wishes of more than 800 area children.
If you are interested in supporting Operation Sleighbells, there are a number of ways to help:
- Sponsor a Family – Provide toys, gifts, coats and perhaps a supermarket gift card to enable an entire family to have a special holiday meal.
- Host a collection drive at work, school, or organization — FCS will provide tags listing the first name of a participating child with his or her age, size and holiday wish. Employees or group members can then select a tag and buy a gift for that particular child.
- Donate gifts – FCS gladly accepts new, unwrapped coats, books, toys and other gifts and will sort and distribute them based on the needs of those registered for the program.
- Donate money to purchase gift cards for teenagers – Donations can be made online or mailed to the agency.
- Volunteer – Volunteer to help sort and pack gifts.
For more information about Operation Sleighbells and how you can help, call us at 732-222-9111.