YMCA of Greenville’s Food Program Provides Christmas Gifts and Essential Support to Underserved Children

The YMCA of Greenville’s Food Program goes above and beyond during the holiday season, delivering not only food but also Christmas gifts to children in need.

For many children, Christmas is a time of joy and excitement, filled with hopes of receiving their favorite toys and gifts. However, for children who are part of the YMCA of Greenville’s Food Program, their wishes go beyond material possessions. These children, who come from underserved families, often ask for basic necessities for themselves, their families, and even their pets. The program, led by Diana Watson, senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer at the YMCA of Greenville, not only provides food assistance but also ensures that these children experience the magic of Christmas through thoughtful gifts and support.

Addressing the Needs of Struggling Families

Many struggling families in Greenville County have found themselves unable to afford housing, food, utilities, and other essentials due to the rising cost of living. The YMCA of Greenville has witnessed an increase in the number of families with multiple children living in motel rooms. These families have expressed their difficulties in making ends meet and have turned to the Y for assistance. The Y Food Program aims to provide food resources to these families without asking too many questions, recognizing that hunger is a pressing issue that needs immediate attention.

Stepping Up During the Pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the YMCA of Greenville was contacted by Greenville County Schools, expressing concern over the growing number of children and families experiencing displacement and food insecurity. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Y launched the Y Food Program in the summer of 2020. Initially focused on delivering food to families living in motels, the program has since expanded to work with local schools and the Veterans Affairs Clinic to serve even more individuals in need. The program relies solely on donations from the community and purchases food on a weekly basis.

Making a Difference Through Generosity and Volunteerism

In 2023, the Y Food Program delivered over 170,000 pounds of food, equivalent to approximately 100,000 meals, benefiting 1,300 individuals each month, including nearly 1,000 children. The success of the program is largely due to the dedication of volunteers who help pack and deliver food every week. In total, more than 5,744 volunteer hours were contributed to the program in the past year. The Y Food Program reaches various areas in Greenville County, including Front Porch Housing, Greenville Inn and Suites, Travelers Inn, Woodspring Suites on Chalmers Road, Super Lodge Motel, Veterans Affairs, and fifteen schools and child development centers.

Granting Christmas Wishes

In October, the Y Food Program started including Christmas wish list forms in the food bags they deliver. These forms allow individuals and families to express their holiday wishes, whether it be essential items like clothes or toys for their children. On December 15th, the Y Food Program organized a Christmas gift run, with volunteers gathering at the YMCA’s Metro Office to prepare for the day’s deliveries. The gifts were distributed to recipients at various locations, including Front Porch Housing and Greenville Inn and Suites. The volunteers were filled with holiday cheer as they spread joy to those in need.

A Growing Impact and a Message of Support

This year, the Y Food Program served 240 children, triple the number from the previous year. Diana Watson anticipates this number to continue growing in the future. She extends a heartfelt Christmas message to the families who will be receiving food and presents, assuring them that the YMCA of Greenville is here to help. Watson emphasizes that the Y is not just a source of assistance but also a friend and a part of the community. Whether it’s providing fun things during Christmas or food relief throughout the year, the YMCA of Greenville is ready to respond.


The YMCA of Greenville’s Food Program goes beyond addressing hunger by ensuring that underserved children and their families experience the joy and magic of Christmas. Through the program’s efforts, children’s wishes for basic necessities are fulfilled, and their holiday season is brightened with thoughtful gifts. The Y Food Program’s impact continues to grow, and with the support of the community and dedicated volunteers, it will continue to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

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