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Operation Rudolph volunteers keep wrapping until just days before Christmas.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Volunteers help select gifts and wrap them, as a part of Operation Rudolph, a local program that provides gifts to families that are struggling during the holidays. 
Operation Rudolph organizers and volunteers were busy this week, with over 75 people wrapping gifts for local families who are struggling this holiday season.

A total of 160 volunteers have helped supported the Operation Rudolph program this year for a total of about 500 volunteer hours.

"People often forget how long it takes to select appropriate gifts, then wrap them. Operation Rudolph would not exist without all the incredible community support," said Kim Schmith, Operation Rudolph coordinator.

Schmith said she asked several volunteers this week why they jump in to help out. She said one of the most poignant responses was, '"I know what it is like to wake up Christmas morning with no gifts, and I don't want any kid to ever have that experience."'

Another response from a high school volunteer was, "I'll feel better about my Christmas if I do something for another kid for Christmas."

Schmith said parents who showed up with their kids to wrap gifts wanted their kids, generally ages 8-12, to understand that Christmas is a time of giving, not just receiving.

Usually, most of the gift wrapping is done by 4-H clubs and Madras High School clubs, but this year Schmith said that community members not tied to a specific group have been reaching out and requesting to help wrap gifts. She said that because of the interest, she plans to add at least one community wrapping time to the schedule for next year to give everyone a chance to help.

The largest group to volunteer in the last week was the MHS girls basketball team, who came down after practice to wrap presents as a team.

Their coach, Jerin Say, asked the girls to volunteer last year and this year brought in all the teams.

"The community gives so much to the teams. I wanted to do something back for the community to show our appreciation," he said.

Donations are still being accepted through Dec. 23 for the program. Schmith said Central Oregon Toys for Tots will hopefully be able to provide several bikes to youth ages 9-13 in the community, as well. Operation Rudolph is looking for donations of helmets for the bikes, in addition to more gifts.


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