‘Secret Santa for a Senior’: Spreading Christmas joy to elderly, homebound residents part of Meals on Wheels mission
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Meals on Wheels of Horry and Georgetown County is in its third year of bringing Christmas joy to senior citizens who might not get a traditional holiday season.
The nonprofit group’s mission is to provide nutrition, compassion and assistance to families with loved ones who are elderly, homebound or terminally ill, but their work takes on an even bigger meaning throughout the holiday season.
In fact, the “Secret Santa for a Senior” program is one of the biggest initiatives of the year.
“A lot, most of our clients don’t have someone who’s there for them at the holidays, or they might live far away, and we know that they have some physical needs and some different things that they could use for the holidays,” said Angie Moncrief, external missions director for Meals on Wheels of Horry and Georgetown County.
The organization makes sure seniors are stocked up on essentials like sweaters and socks, but it’s important to go deeper and make sure seniors are getting things they will be excited about.
“We try to get the personalized things that they really like so that we can make sure that’s most special for them,” Moncrief said. “It’s kind of fun to hear what you know exactly what they’re asking for.”
Since its launch in 2020, the program has only grown. It started with 90 seniors in the first year, and this year more than 400 seniors are expected to sign up. To make Christmas magic happen for so many, Moncrief said they will need a lot of help.
“Anyone can sign up,” Moncrief said. “We also look for drivers and people in the community that would like to come dress up and then deliver the personalized Christmas items to the clients.”
In past years, Moncrief said they have been lucky to have generous “Santas” sign up.
“We have people sign up that may choose two males, but they’ll be like, ‘well, we were shopping and we found these things for females, too,’” Moncrief said. “People would come in with bags of extra things, so we were able to fluff the gifts that were already here and make sure that everyone had everything on their list.”
With the community’s help, the organization could continue to extend its generosity across the counties and across the state.
“We had so many extra presents last year,” Moncrief said. “We were able to give some to a low-income senior community that’s here in the area, and we also sent some to a senior center in Williamsburg County.”
She said their clients’ joy is unmatched when they see “Santa” coming to their doorstep.
“The tears, the joy, the laughter,” Moncrief said. “Some of them don’t get Christmas presents. When we do the calls we say, you know, we’re helping Santa at the North Pole, and so they think that is a lot of fun. It’s just bringing back that childlike, and that joy, that really is Christmas.”
Signups for the Santa program begin on Monday and continue through Dec. 2 on the organization’s website. Gifts will begin to be delivered beginning on Dec. 12.