ELIZABETHTOWN —As thoughts begin to turn from Halloween to the trio of winter holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s — it’s also the time of year for the Bladen Journal’s annual Empty Stocking Fund project.
Each holiday season, the Bladen Journal partners with the Bladen County Department of Social Services and the community to help to make Christmas a little better for the area’s needy families. Last year, the Empty Stocking Fund brought Christmas smiles to 156 children after raising $7,825.
This year, the Bladen Journal will continue to partner with DSS, but has also partnered with the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce for the holiday project.
“We are excited to be partnering with the Chamber on this worthwhile project,” said W. Curt Vincent, GM/editor of the Bladen Journal. “Their reach and networking throughout the business community is outstanding and should help the project be even more successful.”
Some of the larger donations last season included an anonymous gift of $1,400; a second anonymous gift of $1,700; the Trinity Methodist Men’s Club gave $1,500; Danaher Controls Lunch Group donated $550; and the Classic Cruisers Car Club donated $800.
“The success of this project each year is completely dependent on the community’s generosity,” Vincent said. “And each year we are truly grateful for the response.”
Vincent has also decided to make things a little interesting this year. He has said if the Empty Stocking Fund reaches or surpasses the $15,000 mark, he will spend the weekend of Dec. 26 and 27, on the roof of the Bladen Journal.
The Bladen County DSS, as always, will start the project off by taking applications from Wednesday, Nov. 4, through Wednesday, Nov. 18.
Janet Miller with DSS said the applications will be available at the front window in the DSS lobby. Once the information submitted on the application has been verified, and the specific number of children for gifts are determined by the amount in the Empty Stocking Fund, the applications will then be turned over to the Bladen Journal.
Those families that are selected will be notified by the Bladen Journal staff regarding what day and what time to pick up their holiday gift cards.
Miller said this is a time when things get really busy at their office.
“We do get a lot of phone calls and sometimes its hard to return all of them,” said Miller.
She said while this time of the year does get chaotic, it is also rewarding for the DSS staff. Miller said that many groups and volunteer organizations in the community offer to assist those in need or adopt families for the holidays.
“We get to be on the end of that line. We know who they are and what it means to them,” said Miller.
The Bladen Journal’s goal this year is $12,000 — which would allow about 250 children to have a brighter Christmas season.
How to contribute
Anyone interested in donating to the Empty Stocking Fun can bring cash or a check made out to the Empty Stocking Fund by the Bladen Journal office in downtown Elizabethtown during regular business hours, Monday through Friday. Checks can also be mailed to: Bladen Journal, c/0 Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 70, Elizabethtown, N.C. 28337.
All those who contribute will be listed each week in a story, unless they request to be anonymous. Donations may also be given in memory of someone.
Contributions will be accepted by the Bladen Journal through Wednesday, Dec. 9, at noon.