Operation Surprise Attack Helps Sick Children & Families

For families whose child is diagnosed with a serious illness, life is anything but normal. But at that critical point, a stealth volunteer team can spring into action to help relieve at least some of the burdens local families may face.

“We try to take some of the burdens off the family while their child is sick,” said Lisa Fulton, president and founder of Operation Surprise Attack. Fulton identifies the organization’s mission as “surprising sick children in our community by attacking them with an outpouring of love, encouragement and support.” Established in 2007, the organization became a 501( c ) 3 nonprofit in 2021.

Thousands of cards, help and support

Over the years, Operation Surprise Attack has organized campaigns to collect thousands of greeting cards, gifts and financial donations for sick children and their families in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. They reach out for financial support, gift donations and greeting cards from every corner of the community – businesses, schools, health care providers and the public.

Four general “card launches” are scheduled each year around Valentine’s Day, spring, back-to-school / fall (which is also Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month) and the holidays. “When I started Operation Surprise Attack, it was just me, and I was working with families across the country,” Fulton said. She’d spend hours on the phone asking local schools for greeting cards and talking to businesses about making donations. 

“It’s been difficult locating kids to support, because we have to rely on word-of-mouth from the community,” she explained. When she learns of a possible child to support, she will have the family complete a recipient application. Then they can be scheduled for an upcoming card launch. “Today there’s nothing else like what we do, and I have an amazing team. This is really my life’s calling.”

Gearing up for the holidays

Local business Taylor Automotive is a corporate sponsor, providing funding and making cards for each card launch. Meijer is funding holiday activities. The group has created fundraisers with businesses throughout the community and held card-making events at fairs and other community events this past summer, at local churches and businesses, and through regional schools.

They are primarily focused on creating cards and gathering gifts to present to the children, but families are not overlooked. “Because children have to travel (to other cities) for treatments, we like to help families out with gift cards, and also help with household needs, such as groceries and utility payments,” said Fulton. 

The families in each card launch tend to stay in touch with one another, as well as the group, as time goes on, said Fulton. And they are establishing a fund to help with the expenses for continued treatment, and for final expenses if a child passes.

Holiday card launch is December 21

This year, the group has selected four children for holiday “attacks”: Danica, 11, from Taylor, MI; Ivy, 3, from Manitou Beach, MI; Jackson, 14, from Perrysburg; and Brody, 4, from Tiffin. Greeting cards and other items will be gathered from now through December 16 and delivered to children on December 21.

People are invited to participate by providing cards, or working within their group, business, church, etc., to have a card-making event. They establish a wish list of family items on Amazon for contributions during the launch period, and individuals and organizations will often “adopt” a child on the list to sponsor. Donations are also accepted.

Operation Surprise Attack is located at 27100 Oakmead Dr., #307, in Perrysburg. Contact them at 567.331.2162 or through their website or Facebook or Instagram pages.

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