Kaplan University Student Tabatha Tasker Brightens the Holiday Season with her own Toy and Household Goods Drive for Families in Need
Tabatha Tasker founded Operation Santa 2012 in Terra Alta, West Virginia. Operation Santa collected donations to help provide Christmas gifts and household goods to children and families in need.
“I was once a single mom. I had no job and lived in a government apartment…then some years later I bought a huge house and three weeks before Christmas it caught fire,” she said. “People stepped in and touched my life and the lives of my children during these times. Now I am happily married and a full-time mom. I want to help others the way people helped me.”
While working toward her bachelor’s degree in human services at Kaplan University in 2012, she looked forward to developing a career to help others in need. During that time, she felt she couldn’t just stand by when so many people around her were struggling. Her town had been hit hard by the economy and closing coal mines.
Spirit of Giving
Tabatha has always been a giving person. She has five children and two grandchildren and adopted two toddlers. With the support of her family, she has taken in numerous foster children through the years, and she is known around town for always having her door open for people in need.
During the holidays she always took the name of a child from the local Angel Tree—trees around town with ornaments holding the names of children in need. One year at her family’s holiday meal, they talked about an 18-month-old boy who needed help. Tabatha made sure he had warm clothes, a snowsuit, and some new toys.
“The dream of Santa lived on for this little boy for one more year,” Tabatha said. “I told my family that I wanted to do more, I wanted to reach out to others who may not be able to keep their child’s dream alive.” On December 26, 2011, Operation Santa started from Tabatha’s kitchen table.
“We live paycheck to paycheck just like a lot of people,” Tabatha said. “If I had the funds I could do it alone, but all I can do is donate my time, knowledge, and passion. People have been so generous, and I am so thankful to everyone.”
Tabatha put notices on Facebook and spread the word that she was looking for donations. She gathered clothing, toys, and general household goods. She also held several fundraisers, contacted local corporations, and contacted local shelters for names of people in need. In just a few months, Tabatha’s spare room was packed to the ceiling with all of the donations. Someone then provided the use of a storage locker to hold everything.
Nearly one year later, Operation Santa 2012 provided clothing, toys, and household goods to 27 families, including 70 children.
Thanks to juggling motherhood and her charity, Tabatha says she has become more self-disciplined. She is also putting her college education to use—her classes at Kaplan University helped her learn the various steps to put together a nonprofit, and she inspired several classmates to start their own local Operation Santa projects.