Operation Dalmatian will still happen this year, however it will look different than it has in previous years.
Operation Dalmatian is a local nonprofit organization that has been a part of the Walden community since 1999, bringing together local businesses, schools, organizations, churches and the Walden Fire Department to buy gifts for families in need. Over the years the list of children and families has grown by leaps and bounds from the original 50 children to almost 600 children last year.
In most years, the Walden Firehouse opens the doors to their social hall for gift sorting and wrapping. After all the gifts are sorted for families and labeled with their destination, many members of the fire department donate their time to load the packages into the fire trucks for delivery.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no delivery this year. Families can pick up gifts on Dec. 19 between 9 a.m and noon at the Walden Firehouse, 230 Old Orange Avenue, Walden.
This year, new toys and cash donations are sought after, however volunteer Pat Williams noted that the organization is not picky.
“We will take whatever we can get,” she said.
Those who know of a family who is struggling this year can visit the Operation Dalmation Facebook page. A private message can be sent there or people can call 845-764-5811 to recommend a family to receive gifts from the program.
Monetary donations to contribute to the program’s gift efforts can be sent to Operation Dalmation’s GoFundMe page or can be made payable to Walden Baptist Church- Operation Dalmatian and mailed to 38 Bank Street, Walden NY 12586.
New unwrapped toy donations are also appreciated. To donate toys, people can message the Operation Dalmatian Facebook page to coordinate a time to drop them off.
It is critical that people donate to Operation Dalmatian. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Operation Dalmatian was not able to host their annual fundraisers that would provide the funds for the gifts.
Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher announced that the town would provide donations to Operation Dalmatian.
“One thing that’s great about living in a community like the Town of Montgomery,” Maher said, “is that when things get tough we are there for each other.”