Help Fill The Empty Stocking

From Staff Reports

Nov 25, 2007 - The signs are everywhere that Christmas is coming, but many groups in Sulphur Springs have been planning Christmas for months — those that exist to make sure no child in Hopkins County goes without a toy at Christmastime.

Perhaps the most successful of these organizations is the Empty Stocking Program. Founded in 1973, the Empty Stocking Program is the longest-running Christmas charity program in our area. During the Christmas season of 2006, the program helped more than 1,100 children. Imagine what a couple of toys, a book and a stocking would cost for your child — then multiply that by 1,000, and you begin to get a feel for the impact this program has had on families for almost 35 years.

The Empty Stocking program relies on the citizens of Hopkins County for donations to make these Christmas wishes of so many children a reality. Empty Stocking welcomes the donation of new toys as always, but because of the vast number of toys needed, the Empty Stocking Program relies heavily on toys that they purchase throughout the year.

�We can make a $20 donation go a long way with toys purchased at wholesale toy markets,� explains Empty Stocking Board member Gena Prickette.

This year alone the group has made special purchases of closeout toys from local Wal-Mart in Sulphur Springs, sample sales from longtime toy distributors, and large quantity purchases at Toy Market at Dallas Market Hall.

�Because we are a project of the Hopkins County Christian Coalition, a 501(c)(3) organization, our purchases can be made without paying sales tax,� Prickette said. "We also have developed relationships with vendors over the years who know we are a charity and know we are helping kids, so they give us great deals."

Although the group has several substantial financial donations each year, the majority of contributions are less than $50.

�That�s what makes this effort so special," Prickette said. "It takes everyone coming together to give just a little. It really is a group effort, all of us showing our love for our own children. That�s what makes Hopkins County a special place to live."

In an effort to keep everyone informed of how donations are coming in this Christmas season, the Empty Stocking Program and the News-Telegram have teamed up to provide an update of donations during the holiday season. The donation coupon above will appear frequently in the News-Telegram for your Empty Stocking donations. Just cut or tear it out and send in your donation, and every few days a list of donors will appear in the News-Telegram along with the donation total for the season.

You can make a donation in memory or honor of a loved one, to show appreciation to your child’s teacher, or to wish your neighbors a merry Christmas. You might make a donation instead of sending Christmas cards and wish your friends "Merry Christmas" in the newspaper. How about a donation of $1 for every Christmas you’ve been alive, or maybe $1 for each child in your classroom or Sunday school class? Do you exchange gifts at the office? Why not take up a collection instead and wish your co-workers and clients a public Merry Christmas? Maybe you were a past recipient of the Empty Stocking Program. What a great way to honor those past volunteers now that your own children no longer need help. In any case, you may sign your name or remain anonymous — what's important is to help ensure a happier Christmas day for children in hundreds of families, while making the process easier and keeping everyone informed of the group’s progress. Here’s an example of what it might look like:

In memory of Alice Biscamp: $20

In loving memory of our parents Patsy and Jack Richardson: $50

A Merry Christmas to my friends from Bill Smith: $20

To honor Jo Stiles and Annie Eckols: $25

In lieu of Christmas cards to our friends and families from

Jack and Sue Bailey: $100

In appreciation of all my patients Thank You! Dr. Crandal: $100

Anonymous: $50

In honor of my grandchildren: Lauren and Sam: $25

Any ideas are welcome, and all donations are tax deductible and checks can be made out to the Empty Stocking Program.

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