MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — In partnership with Grand Strand Young Professionals and SOS Care, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is bringing ‘Substitutes for Santa’ to the Grand Strand.
For the 17th year in a row, the event gives 150 underprivileged children in Horry County a chance to experience the magic of Christmas.
After school on Tuesday, the kids will be bussed straight from school to the Fun Warehouse in Surfside Beach where they will enjoy an afternoon of playing games, skating and laser tag. After the trip to Fun Warehouse, each child will $100 to spend on their Christmas wish list at Walmart.
“They can just pick out what shoes they want, what fun toys they want, and then on top of that, we also send each kid home with a swag bag filled with household necessities,” said Caroline Yahnis, the programs director for the chamber.
The program has been up and running for 17 years, but this year is first year of true normalcy in a couple of years.
“We are excited because for the first time since 2019, we were able to host our Subs for Santa event back at full capacity with all of the children and volunteers here at Fun Warehouse,” Yahnis said. “It is a great way to start off the holiday season.”
Fun Warehouse is a family-owned and operated business in Surfside Beach whose owners and employees enjoy giving back to the community. Jason Minzler, director of human resources, group sales and marketing, said this event is a favorite.
“[The] best part, of course, is the smiles on the kids’ faces, you know, getting to see them come in and play and really the reactions from the volunteers,” Minzler said. “It means a lot to them to be able to be a part of this event too.”
Yahnis said seeing the kids’ reactions is her favorite part.
“Being able to see the kids get off the bus after school at Fun Warehouse, and they just light up with excitement because they know they’re in for a great evening filled with bonding time with their volunteer, as well as a great time at Fun Warehouse, where they get to do things that maybe they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do,” Yahnis said.
Both Yahnis and Minzler said the volunteers are a huge part of the event, and it has become a Christmas staple for so many families.
“A lot of these kids are so grateful that we are able to give them presents, give them a Christmas, and it really just leaves everybody feeling merry and full of holiday joy,” Yahnis said.