Kelly Fisher, of Operation Helping Hand, shared information about the organization and its efforts with Pagosa Kiwanis Club members at the club’s Nov. 13 meeting.
Operation Helping Hand began in 1989 with the mission to provide basic necessities to less fortunate community members during the holiday season. The volunteer organization is run by a board of six. Fisher joined the organization in 1991 and currently serves the board by running the volunteer program.
At its inception, Operation Helping Hand provided assistance to 22 local families. It has grown substantially, providing for 256 families last year. No longer only offering assistance during the holidays, Operation Helping Hand also offers a school supply drive and other projects throughout the year.
Presently there are nearly 200 families signed up to receive Thanksgiving food baskets through Operation Helping Hand. To provide for these baskets, local schools, City Market, and other community organizations run food drives and other collections for his worthwhile and much-appreciated effort.
Operation Helping Hand works closely with the Department of Human Services and other local philanthropic organizations in an effort to not duplicate services. Families interested in applying for assistance may request a form from the Human Services Department, which asks for the particular request and proof of need.
The Christmas holidays are by far the busiest time of year for Operation Helping Hand. In addition to providing food for families they provide articles of clothing, toys, and other necessities for seniors and children through Project Empty Stocking, providing clothing and Project Secret Santa, which provides toys.
In addition to more than 50 individual Operation Helping Hand volunteers, organization volunteers include homeschoolers, Kiwanis, local churches, and scouts. Something Old/Something New collects and distributes donated items. Specific sponsorships include; the Library “Giving Tree,” which donates books to children; the Snowflake Program, operated by the Methodist Church, which fills tag requests; Operation Winter Coat, a collection and distribution of coats by Rotary; and Bucks for Bikes, sponsored by the local Association of Realtors.
Boards with tags went up Nov. 15 at the City Market stores, and will remain displayed until Dec. 15. Tags are also available at the Chamber of Commerce and the Movie Gallery. Food donation buckets are located at both City Markets now through Dec. 16.
Held at the fairgrounds Extension Building, the Thanksgiving giveaway is from 3-5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21. The Christmas date is Dec. 19.
For further information, contact Operation Helping Hand hotline at 731-3735.