11/23/09 — Program seeks help for county patients

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Program seeks help for county patients

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 23, 2009 1:46 PM

For nearly 50 years, Operation Santa Claus has provided holiday gifts for citizens living in facilities around the county, many without family or friends to lend support.

Sponsored by the Mental Health Association of Wayne County, Operation Santa Claus receives "wish lists" from local nursing and group homes and care facilities, as well as Cherry Hospital and O'Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center.

More than 300 Wayne County residents are on this year's list of recipients, said Amy Roux, executive director of the local MHA.

"The wish list items include clothing, hygiene items and an occasional toy, book or music," she said. "Monetary donations are needed to provide these gifts."

Donations of personal care items are also accepted, as are assorted size T-shirts, underwear and socks for men and women.

Without a supportive community, however, the effort will not be successful.

"This year, Operation Santa Claus has 303 residents that are forgotten," she said. "This year, due to the economy more and more citizens are watching their spending carefully. The committee is asking if individuals and businesses can contribute $10, each forgotten citizen would receive their wish list which includes a shirt, pants, undergarments and hopefully a pair of shoes."

Added to that list will be a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant.

The effort isn't limited to monetary gifts or donations of items, however. Ms. Roux said Operation Santa Claus also needs volunteers to shop, wrap and deliver gifts.

"Many of our volunteers have assisted with this program for many years," she said. "They shop and then have a wrapping party. Some also plan activities for the family residents."

Individuals, church groups, families and Girl and Boy Scout troops and civic organizations are just a few of those who might consider participating.

Another need is sleeping bags equipped for freezing weather. Ms. Roux said these are purchased each year for the homeless, especially those who do not utilize shelters on the year's coldest nights. Goldsboro Police Department has been instrumental in helping distribute them, Ms. Roux said.

While the list of hardship cases continues to grow, the generosity of spirit and the sense of giving makes it worthwhile, she said.

"This program is one of the most rewarding parts of my job," she said. "I help bring joy and happiness to the forgotten citizens throughout Wayne County."

To make a tax deductible monetary donation, mail to Operation Santa Claus, P.O.. Box 1476, Goldsboro, N.C. 27533.

To donate items, shop, wrap and/or deliver gifts, contact the MHA office at 734-3530 or mhawc@esn.net.