Operation Christmas Spirit faces funding shortfall
By Lois Ann Dort
GUYSBOROUGH – For over 15 years the elves at Operation Christmas Spirit (OCS) have been working hard to make the dreams of Guysborough County children come true on Christmas morning. Their work, which supports approximately 75 families and over 100 children, stretches across the county providing gifts for children from preschool to Grade 12. The program is for families with an income of $25,000 a year or less. Inclusion in the program can come from self-referral or referral by a friend or local agency.
Funding for OCS comes in large part from the Christmas Daddies Telethon via the local chapter of the Salvation Army in New Glasgow and local community members /organization donations, which are eligible for a tax receipt. Last year the program ran on an operating budget of $8500 with $3500 of that money provided by the Christmas Daddies Telethon. This allowed the elves to purchase gifts for 160 children with and average gift costing $50.
Unexpectedly this year, OCS saw a drastic reduction in funding from the Christmas Daddies Telethon. In November, when OCS contacted the Salvation Army, which oversees the distribution of Christmas Daddies Telethon funds, to inquire about funding they were told, initially, that no funds had been allotted to Guysborough County. A few more calls and direct contact with the Christmas Daddies Telethon office saw that figure revised to $1000.
The Journal contacted Salvation Army Public Relations Secretary for the Maritime Division Rhonda Herrington to determine how funds from the Christmas Daddies Telethon were distributed and was told the monies raised in an area were redistributed in the same area.
The OCS committee members believe that the Christmas Daddies Telethon is, and always will be, a wonderful, community-spirited event that helps put presents under the trees of low-income families but they are concerned to see donations drop so drastically and are worried about the future of the OCS program.
This year, with a reduced budget, the OCS elves are tightening the purse strings and reducing the total value of the gifts given per child. With the generosity of Guysborough County people and organizations, OCS hopes to fulfill the needs of all the referrals received by the program.
Operation Christmas Spirit is housed in the Antigonish Guysborough Black Development Association office in the Guysborough Mall and is staffed by two coordinators who are funded by Employment Nova Scotia.
To find out more about the program, to make a referral, or a donation, please call 533-3397 or come in to the office at 9996 Chedabucto Center, Guysborough.