For more than three decades Operation HELP has been helping provide a happy holiday season to area families in need of assistance.

The annual Operation HELP Christmas Campaign for Kids is a cooperative effort between the organization and sponsors from throughout the community working together to provide gifts for children, from infants and toddlers through high school. The only requirement is that the family live in the Hudson School District.

Families register to participate and give information about their children including sizes and a wish list. Anyone interested in participating as a sponsor can take a family or just one or two children, depending on what they wish to spend. Sponsors will be asked to provide gifts, warm hats and gloves/mittens, underwear and socks for each child in the family. Information about gift needs, preferences, sizes and anything else will be emailed to the sponsor.

In recent years, many parents have asked for "the basics" like coats, mittens and boots according to the HELP staff and are focusing less on toys. Sponsors often go above and beyond to add items to the families' list at their own discretion.

The dates to register for families wishing to receive assistance or volunteer to sponsor a family start Oct. 22 and close Nov. 21. Registration can be done online at www.operationhelpstcroix.org or by coming into or calling the HELP office at 901 Fourth St. from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday or 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday. Information about the campaign is also available through Hudson school counselors.

The dates to register to be a sponsor start Oct. 22 and end Nov. 28. Registration if available at the HELP office.

Operation HELP also will be collecting new blankets for the families Nov. 1 to Dec. 2 at the following locations: Associated Bank, Hiawatha Bank, Riverfront Athletic, Tangled Spa and Salon, First American Bank, the YMCA and Wells Fargo Bank.

Toys are being collected at Viking Electronics, WESTconsin Credit Union and Edina Realty from Nov. 1 to Dec. 1.

Gifts need to be dropped off at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 502 County UU, Dec. 3-4 for distribution to the families. Distribution of gifts to families will occur at St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Dec. 6.