Operation Merry Christmas: Collecting gifts for needy families

By Jillian Marshall

December 9, 2013 Updated Dec 9, 2013 at 7:24 PM EDT

Sidney, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Some families in the Southern Tier may feel stressed with spending with Christmas only a few weeks away. Operation Merry Christmas is taking away the worry about gift shopping for some in Delaware County.

Operation Merry Christmas has been helping families have a stress-free holiday since 1940.

For the past 30 years, Virginia Ireland has been in charge of the Sidney-based organization.

This year, more than 400 children under the age of 10 will have gifts of toys and clothes.

Parents or guardians listed their children's sizes, gender and interests, then Operation Merry Christmas decorated trees in stores in Sidney and Unadilla with tags stating what sizes the child wears and what toys they would like.

People interested in purchasing for the charity took the tags and bought the items. Then they brought them to the Civic Center in Sidney to be packaged for the families.

"It's a program to help the children who don't get much of a Christmas and for those whose parents work but just don't make enough," Ireland said.

Ireland focuses on helping those children in need and dedicates hours to Operation Merry Christmas, all while battling cancer.

She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but it hasn't slowed down the program.

"We just keep going, I don't think that it knows I'm here, it's just kinda laying there being quiet," Ireland said.

Bags for each family are being prepackaged so pick up can be quick and efficient this coming Saturday.

Pick up starts at 9 a.m. at the Civic Center in Sidney.