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Operation Santa Claus brings joy to families each holiday season

They are all a link in the chain. The chain has been supporting families in the Cambridge community for more than 30 years.

Operation Santa Claus is an annual program that provides clothing, winter gear and food to CCS families in need. Mary Laedlein, Irene Headwell and Connie Larivee are the program coordinators who play a critical role in making the program a big success. This year, the program is assisting more than 180 children.

Connie has been part of the program since 2012. In the late fall, Connie sends out letters for monetary donations and for businesses to adopt families. She also does a staff tree in the faculty room with gifts that children are asking for. Staff can then pick an item from the tree and generously donate that item. She also asks staff members to provide families who could benefit from Operation Santa Claus. Connie, Irene and Mary then send out applications based on the names they receive.

Irene has been part of the program since 2005. Irene is responsible for shopping for items based on the monetary donations that the program receives. If all of the families are not adopted, Operation Santa Claus will pay for those items for the family and Irene will also shop for those families.

Mary has been part of the program since 2001. Mary handles all of the money related to the program and is the lead organizer of the annual Craft Fair held at CCS. The Craft Fair serves as a fundraiser for Operation Santa Claus. All proceeds from the event go directly to the cause.

The Cambridge-Greenwich Police Department also hosts a toy drive each year. The toys donated support the families in need. “Elficer” Danko and his crew drop off all the toys each year.

A variety of private donations, churches and organizations support the cause each year.

“We have a lot of faithful donors who donate each year,” said Mary Laedlein. “It says a lot for the community how much they love their children.”