The faces in the accompanying photograph say it all. They are faces aglow in Operation Sunshine.
And more faces than that are glowing in the wake of another successful Operation Sunshine campership campaign.
Many of those faces should be those of this very generous community.
Thanks to that generosity, our goal - $65,000 - was met. Donations have poured in since May from all corners of the community, enabling hundreds of children from needy families in the area to enjoy a camping experience they otherwise might not have had.
The money collected is distributed by nine Operation Sunshine agencies: ARC of Oneida/Lewis Counties; Boy Scouts, Revolutionary Trails; Catholic Charities— Oneida/Madison Counties; Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways, Inc.; Kamp Kiwanis; Neighborhood Center; Salvation Army of Utica; Thea Bowman House; the Kelberman Center. Each agency reviews applications from families requesting assistance and determines if and how much financial assistance is needed to send a child to summer camp.
The Observer-Dispatch has shepherded Operation Sunshine since its creation in 1968 by Victor Ehre, president and general manager of Utica Mutual Insurance Co., and Mason Taylor, executive editor of the Utica newspapers. Through the years, it has helped send thousands of children to summer camp. A corresponding winter campaign helps needy families around the holidays by providing toys, food and other items.
Operation Sunshine is a terrific investment since all dollars donated go directly to the cause. The O-D handles all administrative costs.
We could not do this without a community whose heart is much larger than its pocketbook. Many who have donated to Operation Sunshine could probably use the help themselves; we've seen such instances in the past. Others who contribute can well afford it, and their generosity knows no bounds.
On behalf of the O-D staff, agencies and most if all, Operation Sunshine campers, thank you. Making a difference like this never grows old.