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'Operation Holiday Joy' helps San Diego military families with kids

Operation Holiday Joy .png
Melissa Mae
Military families shopping during the Armed Services YMCA’s 32nd Annual Operation Holiday Joy at the Murphy Canyon Chapel on December 8, 2021.

The Armed Services YMCA has been running Operation Holiday Joy for 32 years.

Tim Ney is the executive director of the Armed Services YMCA located in Murphy Canyon, which houses the highest concentration of off-base military and their families in the world.

“Our military members — they preserve our legacy of freedom. So this is just a subtle, a small thing we can do,” he said.


The annual event is a popular one.

“This event fills up in just about 12 minutes," Ney said. "So it’s very very quick, but the families will go through and get their selection of toys, which were all staged by volunteers last night in different age groups. Bikes, all kinds of different assortments of toys and for those older kids there’s gift cards and such.”

About 430 junior enlisted families with 1,300 children will be receiving two gifts and some stocking stuffers. The gifts were picked out by parents during this event.

Several volunteers, including some notable San Diego sports figures, helped bring some early holiday cheer to the families.

They included Landon Donovan, manager of the San Diego Loyal.


“We’re happy to be here. We’re happy to support our military. We’re happy to support this city,” he said.

Donovan served as a personal shopper to many families and even wrapped some gifts.

“Today has been incredibly filled with gratitude from people and that’s been really nice," he said. "So they appreciate what everyone has done, all the people who have donated, all the people who are here helping. Padres, ourselves, a lot of volunteers and it’s been a really nice thing.”

The San Diego Padres' new manager Bob Melvin made his first public appearance during Operation Holiday Joy. He knows how important supporting the military is to the San Diego community.

“Just looking at all the kids here and being able to be a part of the families and see some smiles on the faces,” Melvin said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to the most.”

Melvin was also a personal shopper for several families and said events like this are what the holidays are all about.

“Giving, and the families incorporating the military, just such a great feeling. It’s an exciting experience," he said. "This is my first time for this today and just driving up here kind of gives you goosebumps.”

“It’s like one Armed Services YMCA family that comes together to strengthen our military family,” Ney said.

If you would like to donate or volunteer with the Armed Services YMCA go to

'Operation Holiday Joy' helps San Diego military families with kids