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The Operation Sunshine Fund at the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties has awarded $9,000 to nonprofits in support of summer camperships. Following the transition from a nonprofit affiliate of the Observer-Dispatch newspaper to a Community Foundation fund, Operation Sunshine Fund continues to uphold its original mission of providing underprivileged kids with a summer camp experience.

Nine nonprofits received a grant of $1,000:

  • Boy Scouts of America Leatherstocking Council
  • Catholic Charities of Oneida & Madison Counties
  • Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways
  • Kamp Kiwanis
  • Kelberman Center
  • Neighborhood Center
  • Salvation Army of Rome, NY
  • Salvation Army of Utica, NY
  • Thea Bowman House

Operation Sunshine was established in 1968 by Victor Ehre, then president of Utica Mutual Insurance Company. The Utica newspapers at the time — the morning Daily Press and evening Observer-Dispatch — agreed to sponsor the effort and adopted the name “Operation Sunshine.” In 2021, the Operation Sunshine organization’s board elected to dissolve their independent foundation and transitioned to a field-of-interest fund at the Community Foundation.

“Since 1968, Operation Sunshine has been a staple in our community under the guidance of the Observer-Dispatch. Changes and restructuring at the newspaper made it necessary to find a way to maintain the Operation Sunshine mission, and so it was transitioned to the Community Foundation where we knew it would be in good hands,” said Dave Dudajek, former Operation Sunshine board member and Observer-Dispatch opinion editor. “The purpose, however, remains the same—to assist needy children in our community through the generous donations that have sustained Operation Sunshine for half a century. Helping area children and their families strengthens our community, and when that happens, we all become stronger.”

As an independent organization, Operation Sunshine ran a holiday campaign to provide toys, clothing, and food for families and children in need. As a Community Foundation fund, Operation Sunshine will focus solely on providing summer camperships for local kids.

The Community Foundation will identify eligible nonprofit partners to apply for campership support as funding is available.

For more information on the fund or to donate, please visit foundationhoc.org/operationsunshine.

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Community Foundation
2608 Genesee Street
Utica, NY 13502


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