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Operation HELP and SOURCE celebrate first anniversary Oct. 30

It has been a year since Operation HELP and The SOURCE joined forces to serve residents of the Hudson area. They are marking the first anniversary with an open house on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at their offices at 901 Fourth St., Suite 214, the former site of the Hudson Area Library.

The evening will include a look back at the achievements of the past year and recognition of key partners in the community who have helped make these achievements possible.

For more than three decades, Operation HELP's mission has been to assist people in need that live in St. Croix County and the city of River Falls with rent, utilities and special needs. It provides assistance for rent or utility payments for residents who are in financial crisis due to injury, illness, or other catastrophes, and can provide minimal car repair payments for vehicles used for employment.

Volunteers field telephone calls and take information about the caller's situation and specific needs. A coordinator then follows up with the caller's landlord, utility company, and others to determine whether the situation fits guidelines that will allow one-time financial assistance to be provided to help the caller to get back on their own firm financial footing.

The funds provided are made possible by grants and donations. Operation HELP also runs various programs during the year. Its "Warm for Winter" program provides coats, gloves, and boots to those who cannot otherwise afford them, and its "Christmas Campaign for Kids" matches families with limited means who are located in the Hudson school district with donors willing to help provide a Christmas experience for their children.

The SOURCE is a specific program of Operation HELP that provides a place where Hudson area residents can interact with volunteers to identify the best available social services to meet their needs. Its volunteers provide a friendly face and willing ear, helping visitors work through the many resources available that can help get through a rough patch when finances are tight. Visitors can use the computer, phone, and fax. The SOURCE offers donated items such as underwear, socks, and toiletries. It also can issue gas vouchers, farmers market vouchers, laundry vouchers, clothing vouchers, and haircut vouchers. All items and vouchers are made possible through donations, and are provided as available and based on need.

The SOURCE first opened its doors in October 2010, supported by generous start-up donations, passionate volunteers, and the Hudson Community Fund's willingness to incubate the fledgling organization. Operation HELP is a long-standing organization whose roots go back to a Christmas program started in 1981 but which evolved to a year-round service to help families in crisis. Recognizing the complementary nature of their service-based missions, Operation HELP "adopted" The SOURCE in October 2011.

Operation HELP and The SOURCE are staffed by volunteers, who can answer phone calls for Operation HELP or provide in-person assistance to visitors at The SOURCE. Volunteers also assist in Operation HELP's other programs, serve on its committees, and provide a wide variety of behind-the-scenes assistance. Persons interested in volunteering are always welcome and should feel free to call (715) 386-1300 or (715) 386-0881 for more information, or to attend the anniversary celebration on Oct. 30.