Cancel Christmas? Say it isn’t so. Hopefully with the generosity of the Aiken community we won’t have to cancel Christmas for 200 adults who have mental health disabilities.

Each year, Mental Health America of Aiken County hosts a Christmas party for this very special group.

Without this party, Christmas Day is like any other – no special holiday meal, no tree and no gifts to open.

Nothing to look forward to. The party, complete with traditional holiday food, music and a visit from Santa, is made possible by generosity.

It’s the generosity of a Mental Health America of Aiken County board member who quietly, and without recognition, donates the turkeys we serve.

It’s the generosity of the “ultimate tailgater” Chris Fulmer, who smokes the birds.

It’s the generosity of the Aiken High Culinary Arts class, who not only prepares all the side dishes, but along with our board members, helps serve the food.

It’s the generosity of Aiken Electric Cooperative’s Women of Wire who provide desserts.

It’s certainly also the generosity of Len Engle, who as Santa, hands out all of those gifts.

There are also several generous individuals and groups who have committed to provide gifts for about half of our guests.

However, layoffs, furloughs and budget cuts in our community have significantly diminished our donor base, currently leaving us with about 80 people who need a Secret Santa.

Simple, everyday items that most of us take for granted are on the Christmas wish list of most of these individuals: one 45-year-old man wants light bulbs, a 56- year-old woman wants a set of sheets. A few want a boom box or a watch, but again, their wishes are simple.

These are certainly wishes that are not difficult to fulfill.

Can we count on your generosity?

If so, please call Mental Health America at 641-4164 before Nov. 22 to see what you can do to keep us from canceling Christmas.

Liz Neal

Board Chair of Mental Health America of Aiken County