Empty Stocking project funding running about $3,000 behind

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Mar. 27, 2007 - Take this test: Close your eyes and think back to that Christmas morning when a child got the toy he or she had wished for. Remember the look on their face?

File Photo

Kaylie Coke, Michelle Segleski, Morgan Meade and Emily Shutt sort Christmas gifts during last year’s Empty Stocking drive. Empty Stocking volunteers are holding a fundraising raffle Friday to help raise some $3,000 needed to purchase gifts for needy families next Christmas.

Now imagine what they would look like if there were no Christmas presents that day.

That's a frightening possibility for some 400 families in Hopkins County every year, and something that Project Empty Stocking has kept from happening for tens of thousands of children since the 1970s.

But as happens all too often, Empty Stocking volunteers are facing financial shortfalls at the worst possible time.

All the money they use to buy toys comes through private donations — not United Way funds or government grants here — so volunteers can buy toys in bulk at wholesale prices. The bulk of their purchases come during an annual shopping trip to Toy Market at Dallas Market Hall in the summer, but they're way behind this year.

"We need about $3,000 more before we go shopping," said Gina Prickette, longtime coordinator of the Empty Stocking program.

To try and cut into that deficit, Empty Stocking is holding a fundraising raffle, “Chances for Children,” on Friday March 30. Tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20 and can be purchased at any local bank, as well as from any Empty Stocking Board Member. More than 30 items will be raffled, including Nintendo Game Cube Systems, a 14-inch flat screen TV, a portable DVD player, autographed footballs from NFL stars Randy White and Caleb Miller, a large decorative tin star, a floral wreath, spa gift baskets, facials, pedicures, savings bonds, local restaurant gift certificates, $25 gas cards, tool sets, gardening supplies, jewelry, savings bonds and more.

�Winners will be announced live during drawings on KSST 1230 AM's "The Morning Show with Enola Gay" on Friday at 8:15 am. Winners will be contacted to pick up their prizes.

Private donations can also be mailed to Project Empty Stocking, P.O. Box 2218, Sulphur Springs, TX 75483.

Contributions can also be arranged by contacting Prickette at 903-438-2151.

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