Mary Mahoney, Gail Gilberto and Sherry Fannin decorate the Christmas tree at the Seasons community for seniors receiving home delivered meals from the Horry County Council on Aging.
The names on the Christmas tree at the Seasons community are not the names of children. They are the names of seniors who will get some special gifts along with their home delivered meals this Christmas. “There but for the grace of God go I,” said Sherry Fannin, chair of the Christmas project at Seasons. We all could be one step away from being in the same situation and I would hope that if I were in that situation, someone would help me.”
“It’s wonderful that they would do what they’ve done,” said Elaine Gore, executive director of the Horry County Council on Aging (HCCOA). “There’s a lot of seniors. There’s a lot of need,” Gore said.
Gore said there are usually from 375 to 400 seniors in the home delivered meal program. The number fluctuates almost daily because some go into nursing homes, hospitals, rehabs or other places. “And sometimes they don’t get to come back,” she said.
“A lot of times people are over 95 and they’re literally homebound,” she said.
The seniors will get a lap blanket and a $25 food card for one of the grocery stores, courtesy of the residents of the Seasons. “Mary (Mahoney) and Gail (Gilberto) have been wonderful. We have very generous people living here. We have a community of people that have been blessed and they have no problem giving back,” Fannin said.
Residents chose the first name only tags from the tree. Some of them purchase the blanket and food card, and they wrap the gifts, adding a personalized card of their own. Others give the money. Fannin said they have 333 names.
Gore said that if the number of homebound seniors has grown since the Seasons’ Committee got the names, the HCCOA will try to get the extra gifts.
Drivers deliver a box of five meals to each senior weekly.
Ray Fontaine, director of the HCCOA, said the seniors are always glad to see the delivery person. “Sometimes they even cry because they are so lonely, but at least they have a shoulder to cry on,” Fontaine said.
“Sometimes it’s the only person they see all week, and sometimes it’s the last person they’ll ever see,” said Deputy director Elaine Gore. “Sometimes they cry. Sometimes they are angry.
“ We have wonderful people who do this work,” she said.
Fannin said the Seasons Charity Committee usually does four charity projects annually and they look for local groups to help. She said they have a lot of giving people at Seasons, which is near the Burgess Community off 707. “That’s the beauty of a 55 plus community. We all lookout for each other.”
The HCCOA, of which Leslie McIver is chairman of the board, has centers across the county and operated on a more than $2.1 million budget this year. The Home Delivered Meals Program makes up 21 percent of its services. In addition to some funding by county, federal and state governments, and other sources, it raises money through memberships, donations, fundraisers and from its Store on Hwy 90, which receives items to sell from sheds in county dumpster sites where the public drops off unwanted or unneeded items, Proceeds from the Store are only used to help pay for home delivered meals and contributed $80,000 to that program in 2016.