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Leathernecks bring Santa to spread cheer and gifts to hospital patients

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By Jesef Williams

Edward Reid rose from his slump and smiled big when Santa Claus entered his room at Springs Memorial Hospital on Saturday.

He was one of many patients whose day became a little brighter when the white-bearded man in the red suit visited the hospital.

Santa came with the Lancaster Leathernecks, the local detachment of the U.S. Marine Cops League. The group went room to room spreading Christmas cheer and handing out gifts to patients.

“It feel good,” Reid said about the visit. “They’re real nice.”

This is the second consecutive year that the Leathernecks visited the hospital during the holidays.

Last year, the group handed out gifts to children. But this year, the Leathernecks included gifts for senior citizens, too.

Gene Wilber, the U.S. Marine Corps League’s South Carolina commandant, said the Leathernecks are the only attachment in the state that makes visits to civilian hospitals.

“It’s always a pleasure to be up here with them,” Wilber said. “It’s great to see what they do. They’re good at it, too.”

Melvin Rape was standing by in a rehab room when Santa arrived to present him with a stocking full of goodies.

Rape’s wife, Edwina, said what the Leathernecks do is remarkable.

 “Even though the economy is bad, people are still giving. And all that will come back to you,” she said about being blessed for helping others.

After Santa and the Leatherneck members made their rounds and left, nurse Sandra Burns talked about how group visits cheer up both patients and others.

“This lifts our spirits as well,” Burns said. “It was a good distraction for many patients who have a lot of pain and issues. The nurses love seeing the changes on their faces.”

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com  or at (803) 283-1152