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The Marvin’s Kids Ministry of Saint Mark receives its name from its founder, creator, and sustainer – even after his death. In 1979 Marvin’s Kids was founded on one man’s desire to help children in need. Marvin Cely knew the back roads of Oconee County from his 30 years in the Cooperative Extension Service. During his travels as an agent in rural South Carolina, he saw firsthand the clothing need of the indigent. Marvin single-handedly contacted families, took the children shopping, and bought clothes and shoes for each child. But his heart would not stop there. Marvin always said, ‘Children may be poor, but they still believe in Santa Claus.” Santa wishes were delivered on Christmas Eve by Marvin and the youth of Saint Mark. The program continues today with over 300 volunteers.


Who is Served? Children who are enrolled in Oconee County Elementary Schools. The children must meet the free lunch qualifications.Who can make a referral to the program? Elementary classroom teachers may submit names to the guidance counselor at their school. When are the children served? The children can be referred any time, but most of the needs are met during October, November and December.


A Marvin’s Kids Visitor Team Member (a member of Saint Mark) visits with each family to identify their needs,share about the program, and explain how they will be served:

  1. Identify what each child would like from Santa,
  2. A shopping trip for clothes, then a pizza party/lunch and a visit with Santa at Saint Mark UMC
  3. A Secret Santa is assigned to each child for toy purchases,
  4. Volunteers make toy deliveries on Christmas Eve.

How You Can Help

  1. You can bring cookies and help during the pizza party/lunch, the second Saturday of December.
  2. You can be a Secret Santa and shop for toys for one (or more) child(ren)
  3. You can take the family shopping for clothing for the children. The funds are provided, you simply help them select and stay within the allotted amount.
  4. You can make a monetary donation toward this ministry in honor or in memory of someone.

For more information or to find out how you can help, contact Sandy James.