MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - An Horry County parent is taking on the role of Santa Claus to make sure some families don’t miss out on a Christmas dinner or present for their kids.
Myrtle Beach resident Cindy Johnson has two kids enrolled in the Horry County school system and said many local families have faced hardships this year which motivated her to do something about it.
After continuing to see long lines at the food pantry and hearing about some of her own neighbors struggling to make ends meet, Johnson made the decision to start a ‘Secret Santa Helper’ GoFundMe page. People can anonymously send an email with detailed information about a family member or friend they know is struggling to make ends meet, and who is in jeopardy of not having a Christmas celebration.
“You can send the person’s name and story and what they need help with,” said Johnson. “If they are chosen, we will email that person back and get their contact information and drop off the gifts or dinner they needed.”
She’s hoping to raise $2,500 for families through the page, to support all the families on the Secret Santa list. Johnson said the reason why she’s doing this through a Secret Santa option is that many people she’s talked to seem to be scared to come forward and let their neighbors know they’re struggling.
“[I think they see it as] it’s embarrassing,” said Johnson. “A lot of people that are struggling right now have never struggled. I found most people that have been nominated or that I see struggling, you would never guess are struggling.”
Johnson said her kids see families struggling this Christmas season, just by going to school.
“Christmas talk this year[is different],” said Johnson. “A lot of kids haven’t asked for much, it’s a whole different atmosphere.”
“At school, people are talking about what they’re going to get and stuff and it’s sad to see kids sitting by themselves and not talk about it,” said Maddox Johnson, an eighth-grade student in Horry County School District.
“I know [many] people don’t have stuff [or] enough money to get stuff,” said Johnson’s daughter Millie Wolford, a second-grade student.
Johnson said so far, people have submitted 48 families for the Secret Santa helper project.
“That said there’s a lot of needs in the community,” said Johnson.
In order to provide a holiday meal or present, Johnson needs to reach that $2,500 goal. Otherwise, more than 40 families may not all receive their Christmas wish this season.
“It’s probably going to be first come first serve because it’s going to be hard to pick from all the stories,” she said. “The goal is to help as many people as we can. We might not be able to do that but that is the goal to help as many as we can with whatever we can.”
Johnson said they’ll be accepting donations until Dec. 23. On that date, Johnson and her kids will be delivering the presents/items to the families.
Anyone wanting to submit a family or friend for the “Secret Santa Helper” opportunity can send a detailed email with their story to email@example.com.
Johnson said they’re hoping to also do something special for the donors.