By GLENN ROLFE, Delaware State News
GEORGETOWN, Del. (AP) – There are seniors in Sussex County who don’t have the luxury of waking up to a family celebration on Christmas morning. For the 28th year, CHEER Inc., its staff and volunteers have teamed up to prepare, wrap, load and deliver a hot meal, Christmas presents and greetings on Christmas morning.
“I just want to help other people and make sure they’re having a good Christmas and not feeling left out or whatever,” said Avery Garrison, a student at Wicomico High School, whose mother is on CHEER staff.
This year, there were 289 Operation Christmas CHEER recipients, based at the CHEER Community Center on Sand Hill Road.
Georgetown’s Mark Keller was back as a delivery elf with his traditional number of stops. Over the past few years he has teamed up with his wife. This time he had to go solo.
“We have family from Pennsylvania, so…” Mr. Keller said. “This is the fifth year. They give us four stops every year. To be a part of that, I’ve been doing stuff like this for as long as I can remember. When I lived in Florida, I worked with the homeless through our church. I just got raised like this. We are always trying to help.
Holiday meals, prepared for the first Operation Christmas CHEER in the community centre’s new commercial kitchen, included hot turkey and ham, dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans, a sweet potato cookie, pie and fruit baskets. Elderly people with pets were given pet food and treats.
In previous years, CHEER’s meal preparation base and Operation Christmas CHEER logistics center was the Thurman Adams State Service Center in Georgetown.
“It makes things a lot easier. There’s a lot more room and everything, ”said Harry Cannon, Chef, Nutrition Program at CHEER.
Gender-appropriate gifts were provided largely by a generous community. CHEER sleds for gift giving were placed at several locations around the county in the weeks leading up to the holiday season.
An association of owners has itself counted more than 100 donations. Additional breakfast and groceries were provided by the Mid-Del Foundation.
Ashley Clark, Human Resources Specialist for CHEER Inc., was on the CHEER staff and board as volunteers. She said devoting her Christmas morning to helping those less fortunate was the reason for the holiday season.
“We are making a big difference. We serve many important people in our community. It can make a difference, ”Ms. Clark said. “It is how happy and fortunate I am to be able to spread the joy of Christmas in Sussex County to our seniors.”
If possible, Mr Keller says he tries to spend time with the elderly during childbirth.
“I try to stay five or ten minutes. But I like to try to bring them other people’s meals while they are still hot. So it’s usually the last person who usually gets the most of my time, because I don’t have another place I have to rush, ”Mr. Keller said. “I try to talk a little bit and ask them how things are going, if they feel like they want me there. You can sense if they want you there. Or they might just want you to go.
Martez Gibbs, a 2020 Sussex Tech High School graduate and now a sophomore at Delaware State University, was one of several volunteers at the Bible Church of Christ in Dagsboro.
“I’m here to give back to families and basically give back to the community. You never know what someone is going through behind closed doors. They couldn’t have food or water, or anything to open on Christmas morning, ”Mr. Gibbs said. “So my plan was with the people in my church to give back to the communities because I know people have given me a lot. “
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