Operation Happiness returns to Winchester

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, December 26, 2023

It was a busy day at Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Thursday, Dec. 21st.

Yet the chapel and other buildings served the community differently from Sunday services.

Clark County Community Services once again hosted Operation Happiness, bringing hundreds to the church location at 2410 Lexington Road.

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“Operation Happiness is a community event,” said Laci Scarboro, Clark County Community Services executive director. “It is just amazing how many servant’s hearts are in this community and the support of those coming together to make this happen.”

Operation Happiness has long been a volunteer-run Christmas assistance program for residents of Clark County.

According to its website, https://www.operationhappiness.net/mission-statement/, “Our mission is to share the love and compassion of Christ.”

Families and individuals sign up through Clark County Community Services at 30 Taylor Avenue to participate in Operation Happiness.

On the day of Operation Happiness, after arriving at Emmanuel Episcopal Church and being seated inside the sanctuary filled with Christmas music, they are soon brought to registration to confirm who they are and their needs.

Afterward, they head to a coat room, where they’ll find various-sized jackets for both men and women, scarves, gloves and more.

Attendees next make their way toward the church’s gym, where – looking to their left – they can find offerings such as chili, peanut butter sandwiches, pimento cheese sandwiches, and water and coffee.

However, just ahead, Operation Happiness provides boxes with various goods for the holidays and beyond, including non-perishable items.

To be specific, canned foods – such as green beans and corn – plus toilet paper, dish soap, cereal, brownie mix, and more can be taken home.

Once the boxes have been loaded into carts provided to customers – which will later be taken to their vehicles by volunteers – families are granted a bag with ham, eggs, butter, and bread rolls.

Families with six or more individuals are granted three bags to accommodate different family sizes, while four or more are each given two.

Approximately 1200 families were served this year, with 500 to 600 volunteers participating.

“Volunteers started coming on Friday [the 15th] and then we’ve had them every single day here until today,” Scarboro added. “It was fast. That was one thing that was really cool to see…They had 700 boxes packed in one hour.”

Among the volunteers was Craig Bridgewater, a volunteer of nearly 25 years.

“[I] love doing it. It’s fun. It gives back to the community,” Bridgewater said. “I really enjoy this job.”

Angela Turner, who works full-time as Director of the Clark County Public Library, helped volunteer in the room where people picked out coats and other items.

“It’s just nice to see people come through and be able to get some things that they need,” Turner said. “We’ve brought everything out that we’ve got…[I’m] just kind of keeping it organized so that [it] makes it easier for people to find whatever they want.”

Winchester residents Laura and Anthony Anderson were two of the many individuals that the day’s efforts directly helped.

“Everybody here is just wonderful,” said Laura. “It’s good to know that [we]ve] got something like this.”

“There’s still people in the world that care,” said Anthony.

For Scarboro, the reward is seeing the impact of the day’s event.

“People come in and they’re relieved that they don’t have to struggle for Christmas… It’s about [alleviating] the need and [helping] people that are vulnerable. That’s the greatest thing”, she said. “This has been successful, and it is so empowering for us at [Clark County] Community Services to see that we aren’t alone. That’s been an incredible experience.”