Every year, at about this time, we send along our most sincere thanks to the communities we serve for their collective generosity with the Empty Stocking Fund.
But this year is different.
For the third straight year, the goal for our annual Empty Stocking Fund effort was set at $7,500. That’s because, in at least the last five years, that goal had yet to be reached.
The closest we have come to meeting that goal was last year, when a total of a little more than $6,800 was collected.
And when this year’s donations began slowly, with only about $3,500 collected during the first 10 days, our hopes wavered on reaching that elusive overall goal.
Then something happened, and prayers began to get answered.
First, a lovely woman who insisted she remain anonymous, brought us a check for $3,500 — instantly doubling the coffers and putting the Empty Stocking Fund past last year’s total.
Then the students and staff at Elizabethtown Christian Academy brought us $850.91 — sending the effort surging past the goal of $7,500.
Several smaller donations pushed the Empty Stocking Fund past $8,000. But then Trinity Methodist Men’s Club dropped off $1,500 and additional smaller donations took us past the $10,000 mark.
And finally, as the deadline approached for collections, Pheobe McGavock with Star Telephone arrived to deliver a check for $3,024 from the company’s employees — pushing the effort past $13,000. As you can see in the Page 1A story today, the Empty Stocking Fund brought in $13,419.91.
We certainly can’t forget the efforts of three groups directly and indirectly affiliated with Danaher — the Danaher Lunch Group, Danaher employees and the Middle of the Island Catering — which combined to contribute $1,090; as well as the Classic Cruisers Car Club, which donated $1,200; and another anonymous contributor who brought $1,000.
But while we give kudos to the larger contributors, we also have much heartfelt appreciation for those who gave what they could, regardless of the amount. Each dollar helped us to reach a total beyond our wildest imagination.
So giving thanks seems like such a small thing for such a tremendous outpouring of generosity.
The reward, for all of us, is that the effort will touch more than 200 children in Bladen County in some way this Christmas season.