Operation Christmas CHEER sleighs in place for needy homebound seniors

GEORGETOWN — Sleighs are out in hopes of providing holiday cheer to homebound seniors in Sussex County.
Small gifts for senior-age Sussex Countians are being accepted as part of Operation Christmas CHEER, a Christmas Day tradition celebrating its 27th year.

Operation Christmas CHEER sleighs are located at three County Bank branches (Long Neck, Milton and Georgetown) and at Meineke Car Care on Route 1 near Lewes.

On Christmas morning, a small army of volunteers will gather at CHEER’s administrative base in the Thurman Adams State Service Center to sort, bundle, package and deliver gifts, goodie bags along with a hot holiday dinner to several hundred very needy homebound seniors in CHEER’s program.

In some cases, the only people these homebound seniors see on Christmas Day are CHEER’s delivery volunteers.
Walter Koopman, vice president of CHEER’s governing board of directors, placed the sleighs the last week of November.

A wide variety of donated items are welcome, including male and female and non-gender.
“If you go in one of these homes, which I have many, in the wintertime ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ cut the heat back because of the price of propane,” said Mr. Koopman. “So, a nice sweatshirt would be great; a pair of warm socks, a hat, slippers one-size fits all, mittens, shaving stuff, toiletries, anything like that.”

Other items on the wish list include hats, gloves, scarves, fragrance gift sets, disposable razors, body wash, deodorant, soaps, wash clothes, towels, lap robes, gift certificates, candy, adult color books and markers.

“We also do cat and dog food,” said Mr. Koopman, noting seniors with pets.
Sleighs will be at these gift drop-off sites until Dec. 20. Gifts for Operation Christmas can also be dropped off at any CHEER activity center.

Gifts do not have to be wrapped. However, Good Samaritans wishing to wrap gifts for a male or female are reminded to indicate the appropriate gender.

Mr. Koopman notes that in the absence of Kmart, a longtime Operation Christmas supporter, a resident of the Hawthorne development east of Georgetown has stepped forward and is spearheading a special gift drive within that development.

“A lady by the name of Susan Cahill got all her neighbors at Hawthorne; she is gathering up gifts for seniors,” Mr. Koopman said. “Kmart, they usually had a tree and they allowed like 12 seniors to write to Santa and say what they wanted — within reason. Those things were put on the tree and a person would come in and pay for that, and Kmart would see that we got that. These were individuals that were picked out of all the clients that we serve. But Kmart is no longer.”

Organizers said they are hoping for another wave of community support. “I always say, ‘If you want to give a senior a little cheer, and put a smile on their face, then by all means step up to the plate so we can continue these good merit deeds that we do at CHEER, and make sure that these homebounds have a Christmas – which as seniors they should be entitled to,” said Mr. Koopman.

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