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A Record-Breaking Year for “Operation Summer Snacks” at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Windham

WINDHAM---“Operation Summer Snacks,” an initiative of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Windham, annually collects food for children in need who receive bags of food from the “Backpackers” program during the school year but, in many cases, do not have the snacks during the summer.

After collecting over 2,500 snack items last year, organizers of “Operation Summer Snacks” didn’t know what to expect this year with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting communities across the state and country.

“In this time of uncertainty, we didn’t know whether this program would work out of our house instead of being based in the parish,” said Jill Russell-Morey, a parish catechetical leader who helped create the initiative in 2016.

Gratefully, it has.

“We have collected and donated 3,853 snack items which surpassed our donation number last year by over 1,000. This is incredible!” said Jill. “All of those tiny bags of pretzels, crackers, fruit snacks, juice pouches, granola bars, and fruit cups turned into an amazing offering to the food pantry.”

“Operation Summer Snacks” works with Windham Food Pantry to deliver the donations to those in need. Through the program, each child receives various individual-sized snacks like raisins, crackers, fruit cups, granola bars, and other items. A big change this year is that the pantry requested that the donations not be bagged by the volunteers, which enabled the operation to be conducted by Jill, her family, and friends out of her house.

“They want all original packages which allows for less handling of the packages and easier storage,” she said.

In addition, the generosity of the community shone through with checks, cash, and Venmo donations. One parishioner even had a large box of snacks sent directly to Jill’s house from Sam’s Club.

“Our young friends in this community have reaped the benefits of this generosity and we are so thankful for the people who responded to this call for what they have to provide people with what they need,” said Jill.

“Operation Summer Snack” has entered its final week for 2020. Anyone wishing to still contribute money or snacks toward this initiative should email Jill directly at jill.russell-morey@portlanddiocese.org. The last day of the initiative will be Monday, August 10.