One of the great privileges that we at The Robesonian enjoy is our role in The Empty Stocking Fund, which allows us to connect the generous with the needy so that children in this community don’t awake on Christmas Day without presents to unwrap.
On Tuesday, we will begin publishing The Empty Stocking Fund for the 2013 Christmas season — and it will debut with a bang because of a slew of donations that arrived late last year that have been idled in a bank account.
Our job in The Empty Stocking Fund is easy and in plain sight.
The hard work is done behind the scenes by employees with Department of Social Services. On Nov. 19, employees there spent all day taking applications for the fund, and then subsequent days verifying that information. It is a rigorous process that can be trusted.
According to Teresa Harris, a supervisor with the department’s Child Support Enforcement Division, there were 690 applications confirmed from eligible families representing 1,502 children.
That gives us a target that, while challenging, is achievable. We would need to raise $75,100 to provide a $50 voucher to all of those children that could be redeemed at Roses or Kmart for Christmas presents.
We have reached that amount once before; last year there was $60,597.94 contributed to the fund, not including the donations that arrived tardy and carried over to be announced on Tuesday.
Here is the important part of today’s Our View: Because the county has given employees at the Department of Social Services a week off during Christmas, there will only be about a two-week window to contribute to the fund. We are still working on a drop-dead date with the DSS for a final day of contributions, but it is likely to be around Dec. 17, which would be a full work week shorter than collection efforts in the past.
So if you plan on contributing, please consider doing so early. And those who plan on contributing a gift of $500 or more and would like for a photograph to be published, we encourage you to make that gift soon to increase the odds that photograph will appear on Page 1A of The Robesonian and not on an inside page.
Once again this year, an anonymous benefactor has pledged to match to the dollar every $25 donation up to 200 gifts. So anyone making a $25 gift can be satisfied knowing that a single child has been checked off of Santa’s list.
The Empty Stocking Fund is now about 35 years old and while we haven’t done the work of counting every penny that has been donated during those five decades, we do know that right at $1 million has been donated since 1996. That has provided Christmas presents for more than 20,000 children during that time.
That adds up to a lot of joy on Christmas Day.