Operation Christmas CHEER goes on through pandemic

State Sen. Dave Wilson helps volunteers Nicole Shirey and Paige Shirey load gifts and meals. Submitted photos

GEORGETOWN — Although COVID-19 altered CHEER Inc.’s traditional Operation Christmas CHEER, the pandemic and current restrictions didn’t stop the 27th edition of the annual Christmas Day tradition.

Approximately 250 of CHEER’s homebound senior clients received a holiday meal, gifts and socially distanced holiday greetings on Christmas Day, thanks to CHEER staff and volunteers.

It all started about 10 a.m. Christmas morning at CHEER’s kitchen/administrative base in the Thurman Adams State Service Center in Georgetown.

Volunteers, restricted from the building because of the pandemic, pulled their vehicles up to the door and CHEER staff, who volunteered their time, performed curbside duties, loading packages, gifts and Christmas dinners — turkey, ham, sweet potato, apple pie and other fixings.

Volunteers then headed out to the residences of senior recipients across Sussex County. Deliveries were left at the door.
Throughout, precautions at every corner were taken.

Emmy Edge of Milton has been delivering for Operation Christmas CHEER for five years. Volunteer Violet Reichert helps her load her vehicle.

“There was no contact whatsoever. Volunteers would go out and deliver gifts and meals, taking them to the front door of the residence, setting them on the doorstep, knocking on the door and stepping back and letting the resident pick them up,” said CHEER CEO Ken Bock.

All wrapped gifts were pre-packaged in clear plastic bags. Gift bags and meals were placed in the trunk or backseat of delivery volunteers’ vehicles.

Volunteers offered holiday greetings from a safe distance. In addition to gifts, holiday meals and poinsettias, homebound seniors received handmade watercolor Christmas cards, courtesy of an artist’s society based in Rehoboth.