DOBSON — Every Christmas shopper has been there: wandering through stores desperately seeking the right present for that hard-to-buy-for person as the minutes tick away toward the big day.
Some will end up settling for a gift certificate or the old standby of money in a card, while others will pick out yet another ugly tie, pair of gloves or T-shirt. But for those who seek something more meaningful, the answer could be Operation Katie.
As part of an ongoing campaign to build a handicapped-accessible home for the family of Katie Bledsoe, a student at Surry Central High School, a Dobson-area group is offering an option. It involves making a donation to Operation Katie which also will double as a Christmas gift in the name of someone chosen by the contributor.
“Every year I’m shopping for grandparents and people like that who have everything they need,” said Anthony Kiger, who is part of a core group of about 10 people spearheading Operation Katie. It originated from a Bible study group about two years ago and contains representatives of various churches.
Designating a Christmas present to that special someone in the form of aiding Operation Katie is much better than choosing “the same old boring flannel shirt you have purchased for years,” Kiger believes. Such a present might wind up forgotten in a drawer, while helping to provide the handicapped-accessible home “is something that’s going to go on forever,” he added.
This gesture also illustrates the true meaning of Christmas, in the view of Kiger and others with Operation Katie.
Those engaged in the house project meet monthly to discuss ideas for various fundraisers, which have included port-a-pit barbecue sales and a “Katie’s Day” benefit at Fisher River Park in 2011, among others.
The idea for the Christmas gift effort sprang from a tendency by family members of deceased persons to request that donations be made for a charity or other worthy cause instead of flowers.
In the case of Katie Bledsoe, the cause would be helping someone who has struggled from the effects of a car accident nearly 20 years ago when she was 3, which left her with a traumatic brain injury. Her condition requires the student to spend much time in a wheelchair.
Though she and other family members now live in a nice double-wide in the Fairview community, it is not suited for the needs of someone in Katie’s situation.
“Right now, they can’t even get the wheelchair in the front door,” Kiger said of just one obstacle posed.
The Christmas campaign got off to a good start with the aid of social media postings on Facebook.
“We’ve received about $500 worth of donations,” Kiger said Friday.
Operation Katie organizers hope more people will see fit to support the effort in the days leading up to Christmas as they become hard-pressed for ideas for persons on their gift lists.
“Right now, we’ve generated right at $45,000,” Kiger said of the overall campaign that has a goal of $125,000 for constructing the Bledsoes’ house at the site of their present home.
The effort was boosted by the fanfare surrounding Katie’s selection as Surry Central’s homecoming queen by her classmates earlier this fall, Kiger said. “It went kind of crazy.”
Cards Will Denote Gifts
Multiple methods exist to contribute toward Operation Katie as a Christmas gift. One involves visiting www.operationkatie.com.
A PayPal account is set up through the web site that enables donations using credit cards. Checks also can be mailed to P.O. Box 585, Mount Airy, NC, 27030.
“Everything is 100-percent tax-deductible,” said Kiger, who explained that those who give should send an email making their contribution known to email@example.com.
In response, personalized Operation Katie cards will be provided for the persons in whose names the donations have been made stating where the money is going, Kiger said. The cards then can be presented as Christmas presents.
“Imagine the feeling your loved one will receive knowing their Christmas gift is one that will help a great family for a lifetime,” the web site states.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.