By NADIA MARIA SMITH
CS&T Staff Writer
It’s that time of the year again when Santa’s helpers young and old come out to help at the Office of Youth and Young Adult’s annual Operation Santa Claus.
Now in its 41st year, OSC has become a family tradition for many who volunteer every year to ensure that needy children all throughout the greater Philadelphia area receive gifts at Christmas.
“It’s a program that becomes part of their Christmas experience,” said Kathy Pfeffer, the assistant director for OYYA’s Community Service Corps. “We have been blessed with volunteers. People call us and they come back every year. For many of these families and their children it is a tradition that goes beyond high school and college. It’s a tangible way to put the spirit of Christmas into action.”
Volunteers begin unloading toys as early as Saturday, Dec. 6 when the downtown wrapping center opens. The next day the Chester County satellite wrapping center gets underway at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, West Chester, with the help of all the surrounding parishes.
Some volunteers go to designated parishes, schools and business to collect the donated toys, batteries and wrapping materials. Others ensure that the toys are properly sorted and ready to be wrapped. And still others spend their days and evenings wrapping gifts for children – from newborns to 14 years of age.
However none of these dedicated volunteers would have anything to do if it weren’t for the generosity of thousands of people throughout the Archdiocese who donate toys, wrapping materials or make monetary donations for the success of OSC.
“The faithful are to be commended for their unceasing and generous display of commitment to such a valuable and worthwhile event and for the many ways in which they display the generous spirit of Jesus,” said John Tague, the director of the Office of Youth and Young Adults.
Donations will be accepted through Wednesday, Dec. 17, so it’s not too late to get your parish, school or business into the Christmas spirit of generosity by collecting toys for the work of OSC.
Once the gifts are wrapped and ready to go, other volunteers dress up as Santa and deliver the toys to designated homes on Christmas Eve just in time for Jesus’ birthday, “whose birth provides the true reason for the celebration of Christmas,” Tague added.
All the volunteers end their service with a 4:30 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph McFadden — a celebration open to the public and held at the Drexelbrook in Drexel Hill.
All kinds of unwrapped toys are collected, except for war toys, guns, videos, DVDs, CDs, video games, clothes or food, although CD players, radios, hand-held electronics and hats and gloves are accepted. OSC asks that if toys require batteries they be provided as well. The greatest need is for toys for infants and older boys and girls ages 11 to 14.
To make a monetary donation or for more information call (215) 965-4636 or visit www.oyya.org.
CS&T staff writer Nadia Maria Smith may be reached at email@example.com or (215) 965-4614.