Daphne and Michael had managed to lead their family unscathed month after month through the COVID pandemic.
The couple’s four children are all home schooled, which means they didn’t have to deal with the commuting when schools closed and opened and closed again. And they weren’t around other children who could pass the highly contagious disease on.
Daphne spent most of her time in the safety of the family home, serving as a teacher for their children.
Michael works, but has been able to stay safe and healthy even through most of the pandemic.
“COVID wasn’t our biggest problem,” said Daphne.
The real battle for the family, said Daphne, starts with a single income. Especially since the couple were preparing to welcome a fifth child.
“It’s always difficult for us, seven people on one income are difficult,” said Daphne. “It takes a lot of money to feed seven people.”
Daphne and Michael (not their real names) have had help from a local food bank. They also have family support.
Daphne is devoutly religious and says her family is blessed, although things are not always easy.
“God is just really good to us and he’s always faithful,” she said. “So far, all of our wishes have been met. We just trust that he will meet all of our needs, and so far he has. “
About a month and a half ago, these needs grew a little with the birth of the couple’s fifth child.
Daphne said her other four children were born at home, and that was the plan this time too. But shortly before the birth, the pandemic finally caught up with the family.
Both Daphne and Michael have COVID.
Michael had to go without work for three weeks, which put a heavy strain on the family’s finances. And the midwife who was supposed to help with the home birth told the family that she couldn’t help anymore.
Daphne said she was told that COVID births can have complications and the midwife was uncomfortable with the risk.
Instead, the couple’s fifth child was born in a local hospital. The family has no health insurance, which means a pretty large bill is on the way.
This means that this year it could be difficult to get the couple’s children a merry Christmas. But Daphne said they don’t mind.
The kids – three girls and two boys aged 15, 14, 12, 4, and 6 weeks old – aren’t the kind of kids who are asking for a lot.
“We have great children, they are happy with what they have,” said Daphne. “My children are always grateful for what they have.”
Families like Daphne and Michael are the reason Operation Holiday started in 1991.
Operation Holiday, now in its 31st year, has happier holidays for thousands of families with children. More than $ 70,000 in donations from readers last year enabled the program to provide groceries and gifts to more than 200 children in need, as well as making additional donations to 10 grocery stores in the Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties in January.
Operation Holiday’s mission is to ensure that children in local communities have food and gifts to open, no matter how poor or difficult their family situation may be.
This year Operation Holiday has worked with 17 agencies in the triangle. Agencies have referred 135 families with 358 children.
Operation Holiday has no overheads and all funds remain local. The funds are collected and audited in a charitable foundation account that is administered by employees of the MediaNews Group.
Gift cards for grocery stores in the area are provided to each family for groceries so they can purchase the supplies for a holiday meal as well as pantry staples. Weis Markets is a partner of Operation Holiday and has helped with grocery shopping and gift cards.
Additional gift cards for each child in the program aged 16 or under will be purchased through Boscov’s and distributed in collaboration with the intermediary agencies.
Operation Holiday does not accept families that have not been recommended by an agency.
Operation Holiday is financed solely by the contributions of the readers. All contributions are tax deductible. Online donations are accepted in a secure portal in collaboration with the TriCounty Community Network. Visit https://tcnetwork.org/ and click the link for Operation Holiday.
Contributions may be paid by check to Operation Holiday at PO Box 1181, Pottstown PA 19464; The Reporter, 307 Derstine Ave., Lansdale PA 19446; Operation Holiday, 1440 Lacrosse Ave., Reading PA 19607.
The names of all contributors will be published in the participating newspapers upon receipt of donations. Please note whether a contribution should be marked as anonymous or in honor or in memory of someone.