MORRIS – When Lois Darlington was approached in 2011 by Morris resident Owen Stuckey about hosting a fundraiser for Operation St. Nick, she was on board right away.
“It was the same year Owen died and Owen is always remembered at our fundraiser. He loved Operation St. Nick,” Darlington said. Stuckey died in 2011 in a motorcycle accident.
After hosting the winter fundraiser at Clayton’s Tap, the bar owned by Darlington and her husband, Scott, was approached to take over the Christmas in July fundraising event.
“We figured it was easier to host a summer event than a winter one. It’s hard to ask people to help us when they are already helping with the radio auction hosted by Operation St. Nick,” Darlington said.
Operation St. Nick is a nonprofit organization that works to help Grundy County families in need at Christmas, Easter and with back-to-school supplies. This year’s event, which is free to attend, is July 26.
“This event has something for everyone, no matter their budget,” said Jan Close, who is helping organize the event. “We’re excited to include a number of items from local artists,” including from Ray Grossi, Art Ashcraft, Mary Sartori, Jennifer Schmick, and Mark and Diana Daggett.
Joe Schmitz, president of Operation St. Nick, said he hopes adding the art pieces will bring in residents not familiar with what the nonprofit does for kids in the area.
Schmitz said the organization has raised more than $100,000 with the Christmas in July event and the money is used mainly for the back-to-school program, the organization’s second-largest program.
“We wouldn’t be able to provide what we do now if it wasn’t for this event,” he said.
Operation St. Nick has received 181 applications for 403 children to receive back-to-school clothing and supplies. The organization provides $100 in clothing and $50 in school supplies at Wal-Mart in Morris.
IF YOU GO
What: Christmas in July for Operation St. Nick
When: 3 p.m. July 26
Where: Clayton’s Tap, 122 W. Washington Ave., Morris.
Learn more: at the event’s Facebook page Operation St. Nick’s Christmas in July