Deadline for Grand Monadnock Rotary’s Operation Santa is Nov. 30

  • This year's Grand Monadnock Rotary Santa's Helpers include Rotary President Greg Robidoux, Rick MacMillan, Laura Gingras and Jim Guy. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/24/2021 11:38:10 AM

It’s the 35th year of the Grand Monadnock Rotary Club’s “Operation Santa” program, which distributes gifts to children of families in need in the region. The deadline to participate this year is Tuesday, Nov 30.

The program started in 1986, when according to Rotary member Laura Gingras, much-beloved community volunteer Jim Grant brought the idea to the Rotary. 

“He just made good things happen in our area, especially for people who were in need,” Gingras said.

And once Operation Santa began, it didn’t stop.

“I think everyone can relate to being a kid on Christmas morning – or any holiday – and looking forward to having something special, and the fact that some families aren’t able to provide that for their children tugs at everybody’s heartstrings,” Gingras said. “It’s something the whole club can get involved in, and the whole community, really, because it’s the community that makes it happen.”

For Operation Santa, the Rotary Club reaches out to 16 local elementary schools and community service agencies for a listing of participating children’s ages and sexes and requested gifts. From there, the club draws up about 400 cards, one for each child, with a requested clothing item and a toy each. The cards are then distributed to participating gift locations, along with a poster advertising the program. 

From there, any community member can take a card, purchase the items listed and return the gifts unwrapped to the place they got the card. The club will collect them and sort them by the location of the child, at which point the gifts will be collected by the school or agency associated with them, and given directly to the parents of the child participating.

The element of parents guiding the process by requesting the items is unique to Operation Santa, according to Rotary Club member Pegg Monahan. The cards often include very particular requests, such as pajamas patterned with unicorns or a specified color of snow pants.

“I really think that’s different from other Santa programs,” she said. “I think very often they’re given the age and sex of the child and not really what specifically they want.”

The community element is very special, as well, according to Gingras. She said she has often received queries from people who have participated over the years about when the program will begin each year.

“Over the years, we’ve put the posters in the same places and people are eager, they’re waiting for the posters to come out because they want to participate,” she said. “We’re really grateful for the community support.”

Despite the anniversary this year, Gingras and Monahan said that the focus is really on the work that they do.

“Our motto for Rotary is ‘Service Above Self,’ and we really take that to heart,” Gingras said. “We just love to do service.”

This year, the Rotary Club is requesting that people buying gifts return them to their participating locations by Nov. 30, in order to give them time to sort and distribute the gifts. Locations include People’s United Bank in Peterborough, Delay’s Market in Greenfield and Monadnock Community Hospital.

For more information, visit the Grand Monadnock Rotary Club website, grandmonadnockrotary.org.




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