WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. (WKBN) – A family is remembering the young lives they’ve lost and doing something good for the community.

Two women, Frances Foster and Brenda May never knew they were cousins until two years ago.

Their late family member, Evan, was 18 at the time of his death. He brought the two women together through his research in genealogy before his passing.

The ladies take their loss and continue to bring joy to other families through a project they call Operation Remembrance.

Frances has been holding a toy drive for 25 years. Since 2020, she and Brenda gave the project a name, to keep the memory of Evan and the other young lives lost in their family, alive.

They say their efforts are different than some of the other typical toy drives around this time of year.

“[It’s for] children whose family make too much money for assistance or don’t have enough money for Christmas gifts,” May said.

Through Operation Remembrance, the family is collecting new and gently used toys for families and children who they say may have slipped through the cracks.

Frances says even those who are being helped can also donate if they feel inclined to do so.

“Our family motto is, ‘Pay it forward,’ and that’s also included with this,” Foster said. “When you’re down and out and someone’s helping you, when you have a chance to down the line, go ahead and pay it forward.”

Thanks to ongoing community support, Operation Remembrance has been able to expand their toy drive exponentially.

Operation Remembrance now has donation boxes at the following locations:

  • Walt’s, 531 Greenville Rd., Mercer PA
  • Pizza Joe’s, 16 E. Venango St., Mercer PA
  • Lock, Stock and Barrel, 78 E. Shenango St., Sharpsville PA
  • Save-A-Lot, 110 S. Water Ave., Sharon PA
  • Pizza Joe’s, 324 Main St., Greenville PA

Operation Remembrance is looking for toys for all ages. Right now, they are in need of gifts for teenage girls and boys.

If you or someone you know may need assistance this holiday season, you can reach Operation Remembrance on Facebook. Sign-up for assistance has not started yet, but will very soon.

You can follow their Facebook page for updates.