Monday, December 11, 2023

Operation Santa cancels December gala at the Sagamore; seeks individual donors

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

The local children’s charity Operation Santa Claus has cancelled, due to Covid, what would have been the 35th Operation Santa Ball at the Sagamore, which has organizers thinking Christmas in August.

Pete Brock, left, & Operation Santa co-founder Frank Munoff. Pete, the proprietor of Sam’s Diner in Glens Falls, raised $50,000 for Operation Santa last year. This year he’s in a cancer fight that has prompted a fund-raising campaign for him.

“Fretting” might be the better word.

Founding director Frank Munoff contacted The Chronicle to say that Operation Santa faces a significant drop in funding in a year when demand will likely be up because of the pandemic. The gala generated $30,000 last year, he said.

“All of our fund-raisers are on hold,” said Mr. Munoff. Also cancelled was the Vette Fest Corvette Show in September that last year raised $10,000 for Operation Santa.

Last year Sam’s Diner owner Pete Brock raised a record $50,000, but this year he is fighting cancer and is recipient of $40,000 raised through a Go Fund Me campaign. Mr. Munoff doesn’t expect his friend to run a fund-raiser in that situation.

“This is our 46th year, and it’s going to be our toughest year…” Mr. Munoff said. “The crux is, we really need people to donate in those two ways.”

Operation Santa provides clothing and food to 2,500 needy children “in Warren, Washington, Northern Saratoga, Hamilton and Essex Counties,” Mr. Munoff said.

He said last year they raised “a record” $210,000 with a reorganized board of directors and several new members.

That leaves them in good stead going into this year, he said. “But right now we could only take care of the kids at 40 percent, and I think the kids are going to need even more this year, to be honest.”

Beyond Operation Santa’s own fund-raising, Hannaford Supermarkets’ “Running Santa” drive, co-sponsored by Fitzgerald Brothers Distributing, last year brought in $10,000 in food certificates that Operation Santa distributed directly to families. Mr. Munoff hopes that piece will go forward.

He said Operation Santa will have to rely more on individual donations, not typically a big factor. Thus, his early fund-raising plea. Donations may be mailed to Operation Santa Claus at P.O. Box 707, Hudson Falls, NY 12839, or go online to donate at

No volunteers shopping this year: The coronavirus pandemic will change how Operation Santa operates this year. Previously, families provided wish lists of clothing and children’s sizes. Hundreds of volunteers shopped for the items, then packaged them for distribution to the families along with food donations.

This year Operation Santa will still take wish lists but will provide gift certificates so families can buy the items themselves.

“We can’t be sending volunteers out into stores, shopping like that, because of the COVID,” Mr. Munoff said.

“We’ll be able to do everything by mail.”

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