Texts, Web really do allow Santa to be everywhere

U.S. Postal Service employees Sandy Platz, center, and Mariela Rendon, left, share a laugh as Platz shows the drawing of a reindeer decorated with bandages while sorting letters addressed to Santa Claus at a post office in Santa Ana, Calif.

Elois Johnson's family fell on hard times, but they still were able to celebrate the holidays Wednesday at Tricounty Family Ministries.

Johnson and her five grandchildren were among about 1,200 people who came to the group's annual holiday brunch, held at Cherokee United Methodist Church in North Charleston.

The line for the popular event extended down the block as people waited for a holiday meal, a visit with Santa, toys for children, winter clothing and groceries.

Sue Hanshaw, the program's chief executive officer, said more people are reaching out for help this year as the economic downturn continues. "And the faces are changing," she said.

For instance, more grandparents are showing up looking for help to care for their grandchildren.

Johnson said she's taking care of her grandchildren because her daughter has had medical problems and is unable to care for them.

But watching out for five children is a financial struggle, she said. So she's glad Tricounty Family Ministries was there to bring her grandchildren some joy for Christmas. "They're so excited to see Santa," she said. "It means a lot. It's a blessing."

Hanshaw said community members and businesses donated all of the food, toys and clothing given away at the event.

It's great to be able to offer so much to people in need around the holidays, she said. "But we need help 365 days a year."