LAKE WYLIE — Some celebrate milestone birthdays. Some mope. Some collect canned goods.
When Norma Wood turns 70 years old on Saturday, Oct. 20, she’ll do so with an appreciation for another year lived and for the fact that living isn’t always easy. That’s why she’s forgoing the usual family and friend bash to instead ask for food donations she’ll send to Clover Area Assistance Center.
“I don’t mind saying how many [birthdays] I’ve had, because I’m happy to be here,” Wood said. “I’m happy to be alive.”
Milestone birthdays haven’t always been so pleasant. When Wood turned 60, she suffered a brain hemorrhage. At 65, she battled breast cancer. Now, she said she has a clear outlook moving forward.
“I’m whole and well and healthy,” she said. “We want to celebrate.”
Food donations will be collected at Kodiak Mini Storage, where husband Charles works, through the end of November.
Karen van Vierssen, executive director for Clover Area Assistance Center, said the idea of celebrating birthdays with donations isn’t new.
“Periodically, we have children who make donations of food instead of receiving gifts for their birthdays,” she said. “It is wonderful to see the spirit of giving starting so young.”
But as for 70th birthdays? Wood could be a trend-setter.
“Since I have been at Clover Area Assistance Center, this will be the first time an adult has made this generous gesture,” van Vierssen said.
Wood volunteers with Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce and Sweet Repeat thrift store, and participates in breast cancer walks, including a recent one in Charlotte where she joined her daughter, also a survivor. She’s worked in various roles in support of her husband’s career and on her own. Now retired, she has more time to give and a greater appreciation for the community she hopes to help.
She recalls the meals, support and help given to her family following her daughter’s cancer diagnosis, and then later her own. Having been sustained by support in the past, Wood wants to do her part now.
“This community was just so kind, so generous,” she said. “It brought me to tears.”
Even waving off a big birthday get-together, Wood imagines she’ll still get a nice meal out of turning 70. She just hopes others might be able to enjoy a meal too.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Wood said. “Hopefully, we’ll get a big response, but either way, it’s worth it.”
Kodiak Mini Storage is located at 4560 Charlotte Hwy. For more information, call 803-746-5000.
Want to help?
Clover Area Assistance Center is currently extremely low on canned fruits and meats. CAAC will be collecting turkeys and fixings as the holidays approach. The center will soon be looking for items like canned yams, potatoes, cranberry, gravy, stuffing mix, dry potatoes, pie filling, canned pumpkin and pie crust/mix. This year, dinner items will be distributed at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“We are starting collections for holiday meals now,” said Karen van Vierssen, executive director for Clover Area Assistance Center, “so it is not too early for people to make these donations.”