Photo courtesy of Operation Spread the Joy

It’s been a decade since a local woman launched a mission to help Columbia’s homeless at Christmas, and not even COVID-19 will stand in its way this year.

Operation Spread the Joy may be a little smaller this year, with founder Heather Malovic aware that the pandemic has hit many people hard and may limit donations. The focus for the 10th annual event will be on keeping people warm and dry.

Malovic and her supporters collect items for the homeless each year, then distribute them at Columbia’s Hope Plaza on Christmas Eve, at an event filled with music and snacks and love.

The biggest needs this holiday season are umbrellas, ponchos, gloves, hats, blankets and scarves. The group has already collected enough socks.

The group, composed entirely of volunteers, collected and passed out more than 2,500 items in 2019.

For more information or to donate (monetary donations are also accepted and used to purchase items), visit the Operation Spread the Joy Facebook page.

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