Sponsors needed for event

Imagine Christmas alone, with no holiday parties or family get-togethers to attend, no gifts, no special holiday meal. Itís a picture most of us are unable to paint in our minds.

Unfortunately, this is a reality for many mentally disabled adults living right here in Aiken County. However, along with community support, Mental Health America of Aiken County provides a holiday celebration complete with a delicious meal, gifts from Santa and much more for this special group of often forgotten individuals.

Operation Santa is a joyous Christmas event organized for adults with a mental disability.

Many are unable to live independently, and for most, this is their only Christmas celebration. The party includes a traditional meal prepared by the Culinary Arts students at Aiken High, caroling and special music and a visit from Santa. For those of us who volunteer at the event, itís difficult to hold back the tears as you witness the joy each person displays as they eat a delicious meal and receive their gift.

Operation Santa is made possible by the generosity of many people, but we need a few more. We have more than 200 participants this year and still have 60 people who do not have sponsors. As a sponsor, you simply purchase an item on a wish list, often as simple as a pair of socks. We also ask that you provide a few toiletry items such as deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, soap and toilet tissue.

Wonít you consider joining with us in providing a special Christmas for a very special group of people in our community? To sponsor a gift bag, please contact Mental Health America at 641-4164. Monetary donations are also gladly accepted and can be mailed to P.O. Box 1074, Aiken, S.C., 29802.

Gift bags and donations should be provided by Friday, Dec. 7. Our office closes 4:30 pm.

Liz Neal

Mental Health America Board Chair