LAURINBURG — Having granted the wishes of 150 families this holiday season, Scotland County’s Christmas Cheer program is only halfway through its mission to provide the county’s needy with food and gifts.
The program sponsors several hundred families annually, distributing food and gifts to children, adults, and the elderly. Applicants may request clothing or toys, specifying ages and sizes, yet some ask only for food and cleaning supplies.
This year, the program’s oldest beneficiary was 89 years old.
“We have done all the senior citizens, but we really need help with the rest of the food for the big families — any food, canned goods, cake mix, whatever they have to share,” said Christmas Cheer Director Eutha Tart.
The program had 302 families on its rolls this year, referred from the Scotland County Department of Social Services, Four-County Community Services, and Scotland County Schools, as well as independent applicants.
“They screen families very strictly,” said Tart. “Whoever Social Services turns in, you know they really need it.”
Area churches do some of the work in collecting items to fulfill Christmas Cheer requests, sometimes donating vast numbers of socks or coats to be distributed to those in need. Some families are adopted by churches, whose members collect and deliver all items on that family’s wish list. Other lists are filled by assembling general donations.
“I’m always so proud of Scotland County,” said Tart. “Everyone brings a little something and in the end it all comes together.”
Along with food, Tart said the program is most in need of clothing for children aged 7 to 14.
“The toys are important, but to me it’s more important that a child has a coat, gloves, a hat — stuff like that that they really need,” she said.
Donations may be dropped off at the Scotland County Christmas Cheer office, located in the Church and Community Services building at the corner of Gill and Fairly streets near the U.S. Post Office. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Tart said that she would like to have all donations by Dec. 24, but items will be accepted until all needs are met.
“We’ll keep taking stuff until we finish,” she said. “We have one family with 13 people in the household, and how we’re going to do that I don’t know, but we’re going to do it.”
For information, call the Christmas Cheer office at 910-277-0026.