About Operation Sunshine

Operation Sunshine is a registered nonprofit organization and an invaluable resource for partnering charities in and around Utica, N.Y. These organizations depend on funds from Operation Sunshine for their seasonal programming.

Click here to make a donation online:

Click here to print and mail a donation form.

Or, call Michele Howgate at (315) 792-5003 to make a donation by credit card over the phone.


Operation Sunshine was founded in 1968, when Victor Ehre, then-president of the Utica Mutual insurance company, suggested that there should be a community effort to send needy children to summer camp. The Utica newspapers at the time -- the morning Daily Press and evening Observer-Dispatch -- agreed to sponsor the effort, and Mason Taylor, the newspapers’ executive editor, dubbed it "Operation Sunshine."

That first campaign raised $9,276 from local businesses and public donations, and helped send 292 youngsters to camp. The following Christmas, a second Operation Sunshine effort was created to reach out to needy families during the holidays. That campaign raised $7,886 for 130 families.


That pattern of two fundraising campaigns per year continues today under the oversight of the Observer-Dispatch. Money raised by the summer campaign still funds campership programs for local youths and the winter campaign still helps provide needy families with gifts and food for the holidays.

How it works

The campership program works with partner agencies that reach out to children in Oneida and Herkimer counties. Children apply to specific agencies for assistance to attend a summer camp. Families then pay only a portion of the regular camp fees based on their income. Operation Sunshine picks up the rest.The winter campaign works with some of the same partner agencies. Money raised is used to purchase food, clothing and toys for needy families whose eligibility again is determined by a careful screening process.

Because the Observer-Dispatch underwrites Operation Sunshine's expenses, donors can be sure that almost every cent of every dollar contributed goes directly to the cause.

Who donates

Everyone. People from all corners of the community, young and old, are faithful to the mission. While large contributors provide a hefty base, Operation Sunshine could not survive without individual donations from people like you. The steady stream of $25, $50 and $100 donations that arrive during each campaign are the backbone of the effort. Because of them, Operation Sunshine succeeds.


To learn more about Operation Sunshine, contact Opinion Editor Dave Dudajek at 315-792-5090, or email him at ddudajek@uticaod.com.