NORTH CREEK - Johnsburg Central School (JCS) students are concentrating more on giving this Christmas than receiving. Under the direction of longtime home and careers teacher at JCS, Lisa Provencher, a group of students is continuing to give life to an annual volunteer program called Operation Santa Claus by raising funds to support area families in need.
Provencher will soon retire from JCS after 31 years of teaching. The program began under her supervision in 1981 and has been successful ever since.
"The students were ecstatic when I first introduced them to the idea," she said. "They were eager to be able to do for others and it is important that they learn how to do that."
Despite Provencher's retirement plans, Operation Santa Claus will continue under the direction of Kathy Smith, math teacher at JCS. Provencher is thankful that the program will continue to benefit local children, she said.
"It is great to see students who unknowingly received Operation Santa gifts when they were young want to participate in the fundraising" she said. "I have seen students grow up through the program."
Now in its 29th year, the program has raised thousands of dollars to benefit local children. Provencher said she's pleased with how far the program has come and estimated that more than 900 area children have experienced the benefits of its work.
"We've raised more than $43,500 over the years," she said. "We've bought new, warm clothes and food boxes for needy children in the town of Johnsburg and, this year, we will be helping more than 30 kids."
JCS students are now soliciting donations from area individuals and businesses. Once donations are collected, participating students will have the opportunity to take the money raised and go shopping for Christmas presents on Dec. 1. The gifts will then be delivered to local children in need.
"If it weren't for the school staff, businesses, and community members making donations, this valuable program would end," said Provencher. "We would help more of the children if we had more money."
Operation Santa Claus is constantly seeking donations and organizers noted that no gift is too small.
The participating students will end their fund raising efforts Nov. 22. To make a tax deductible donation, send a check made out to Operation Santa Claus and mail in care of Mrs. Provencher at Johnsburg Central School, PO Box 380, North Creek NY 12853 or drop off your cash donation at the school's main office.