Operation Holidays has begun

Cash, food and toys sought for annual help for needy

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Assistant Coordinator for Operation Holidays Tammy Kish stacks cases of canned food which will be distributed to struggling families in Northeast Michigan for Thanksgiving. Vietnam Veterans Chapter 583 in Alpena is accepting food, toy and cash donations to make sure all families in the area have a good holiday season.

ALPENA — Vietnam Veterans Chapter 583 in Alpena has started its annual Operation Holidays program, which helps to provide holiday cheer to those struggling financially in Northeast Michigan.

The group is counting on local donations to help the veterans meet their goal.

Assistant Coordinator for Operation Holidays Tammy Kish said the vets are expecting more than 700 families to request assistance in Alpena, Montmorency, Alcona and Presque Isle counties. She said non-perishable food is being collected, as well as monetary donations, which will be used to help cover the cost of turkeys for each family.

Food and cash donations for the Thanksgiving portion of the charitable event needs to come in before the care packages are delivered Nov. 17 and 18.

“We really need to get some monetary donations to help us pay for those turkeys,” she said. “We are also looking to collect more Thanksgiving meal-type food that is non-perishable. People always like yams, cranberry sauce and gravy.”

The vets’ new holiday headquarters is in the old Ripley Fruit Market, across from the former Kmart building on U.S.-23 South. Kish said that, besides food, donations of toys for children are now being accepted, as well.

Last year, donations were late to come in and there was a scramble to raise more money and toy donations. Kish said she hopes to avoid the same thing happening this year.

“We are really pushing for people to get the toys in so we can begin wrapping,” she said. “Our first delivery for the toys is on Dec. 15, and then we have the 22nd and 23rd, so time is already going by fast, and there is a lot to do. We want to get as much wrapped and out that first weekend as possible.”

Kish said the vets always get a lot of support and are hopeful that will be the case again this year. She said a lot of toys are always donated, but there is always a shortage of gifts for older kids and very young children.

“We always need gifts for the teenagers and, believe it or not, for infants to 1 year old,” she said. “They are always the toughest ones to get items for.”

Kish said monetary donations will also be used for presents for children and that she is willing to help others who may want to host a fundraiser that raises money for Operation Holidays.

“Please call me, and I will do whatever I can to help,” she said. “If we can help in any way, we will, because it is going toward such as great cause.”

For more information contact Kish at 989-464-5588. She said she is also at the office seven days a week.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or 989-358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.

Operation Holidays

Vietnam Veterans Chapter 583 is accepting donations of cash, non-perishable food items, and toys. For more information about how to help, call Assistant Coordinator for Operation Holidays Tammy Kish at 989-464-5588.