Gift of giving: CHEER welcomes community support to deliver holiday cheer

GEORGETOWN — On Christmas Day, a small army of CHEER volunteers will deliver hot meals to home-bound seniors.

CHEER plans to add some extra-special holiday cheer.

Community-wide gift of giving is being sought for CHEER’s Senior Sleigh Campaign, designed to package a small gift delivered with the holiday meal to home-bound seniors across Sussex County.

25 CHEER senior sleigh campaign SLEIGH

CHEER is seeking donations from the community in its Senior Sleigh campaign.

“We are asking the community to help us,” said Elizabeth Walls, CHEER’s Volunteer Director.

Donations of gifts or money are needed. Ms. Walls believes many people choosing to donate will take it upon themselves to buy and wrap gifts.

“A lot of people don’t mind giving money but a lot of people at Christmas time, because they are shopping anyway, would like to buy like a warm sweater, or a sweatshirt or a pair of socks. They don’t mind doing that,” said Ms. Walls. “Some people have a problem with giving money because with our society today they don’t even know where their money is going sometimes.”

“With them buying a gift and wrapping it – and putting it for a male or female – they feel like they have a bit more part of it. Most people I find would rather give in that nature than they would their money,” Ms. Walls said.

Gifts or monetary donations will be accepted until Dec. 23.

Gift cards, from businesses such as Food Lion or Walgreens, also make wonderful gifts.

Last year’s Christmas Day homebound meal tally was 309.

“This year it will either be that or more,” said Ms. Walls. “Our numbers increased so much in the last several years that we couldn’t keep up with giving everybody a gift. Last year CHEER went and purchased gifts so that everybody would have one. We are hoping that this year our organization doesn’t have to physically go buy gifts.”

The gift with the meal idea originated from Ms. Walls and CHEER Executive Director Arlene Littleton in conjunction with CHEER’s Operation Christmas.

On Christmas Day, approximately 75 volunteers will deliver several hundred meals – prepared at the CHEER Community Center in Georgetown.

Each delivery will include a poinsettia, Christmas card, gift and meal – along with socializing and companionship.

“My son is a school teacher at Long Neck Elementary; the kids make homemade Christmas holiday cards for all of the seniors,” said Ms. Walls.

Through the construction skills of his friend Bob Coffman, CHEER Board of Directors member Walt Koopman provided two sleighs for gift collection: one at the Warren and Charles Allen CHEER Community Center on Sand Hill Road in Georgetown and another at Gateway Subaru in Delmar, Md., a CHEER supporter and partner in this effort.

Also on board in the holiday spirit of giving is Kmart in Rehoboth, said CHEER Marketing Director Anthony DelFranco. Kmart is working with CHEER outreach workers with a “Giving Tree” for the homebound.

“Kmart gives us the space and tree,” said Mr. DelFranco.

Ms. Walls said many of the clients do not have relatives in the area and are home alone at Christmas.

“We’re trying to brighten their day,” she said. “Not only is it for our homebound clients on Christmas day but also for any senior in Sussex County that is going to be alone.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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