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Bringing Joy During the Pandemic Became A Holiday Tradition

So many people help to make the Beyond Possible at Ability Beyond, but two stand out as having created a tradition that brings everyone together during the busiest time of year.

Whether you’re a family member, staff, friend of a staff member or AB volunteer, mention Holiday Joy and thoughts turn to our Annual Elves-In-Chief, Diane and Hugh McAuley.

Operation Holiday Joy

During the summer of 2020, Diane and Hugh started planning a holiday surprise for Ability residents and staff during a dreary COVID-19 year of isolation in all of Ability’s 120 homes and program centers in New York and Connecticut. They called it Operation Holiday Joy.

Their plan was to create bountiful baskets of fruit and holiday treats, and Ability would invite family and community volunteers to help deliver to Ability homes in their region.

Now in its 4th year, Diane and Hugh have continued to donate immeasurable personal time and resources to buy and gather donations of ginger bread houses, fruit and treats, and our Ability families and friends have been Beyond generous and joyful with their time as delivery elves on the 3rd Saturday each December.

The Tradition Continues

With the military precision of a former Navy Veteran, Hugh McAuley still oversees every detail with the joyful holiday spirit of Santa himself. The McAuley’s Westchester friends, including Alison Bergman, Kevin X. Reynolds and Tom Ringwald—along with members from the Disabled American Veterans of Post 52, and Girl Scouts Troops in Ardsley, Elmsford, Irvington, and Tarrytown— are all volunteers who gather the Friday before to assemble 130 holiday baskets for Ability Beyond deliveries the next day,

Their daughter, Megan, was their inspiration for Operation Holiday Joy and their entre into our Ability Beyond Family. Megan, a resident in an Ability home and a day program participant, is filled with as much spirit and energy as her parents. The thought of 3 tons of the freshest, most flavorful fruit in America and basketsful of gingerbread houses, candy and cookies going to everyone she knows at Ability as well as other Westchester organizations her family supports, is an overwhelming and tangible source of joy and pride that few children experience.

Megan and her parents are forces of nature behind one of Ability’s newest and most beloved traditions. They’ve created one more Beyond that makes the lives of the people we serve further blessed by generosity of our families and the kindness of our volunteers.

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We are so grateful for everyone who is a part of our Ability Family. It's their generosity and kindness that helps make the Beyond possible in the lives of the people we serve. Please consider making a donation today to ensure we can continue our mission to discover, build and celebrate the ability in all.

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