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Empty Stocking Fund work underway

By Sherri Ellington Empty Stocking Fund organizers held face-to-face interviews with applicants Saturday, Nov. 10 at Lamar County Activity Center and approved the 150 children they feel the charity can afford to provide Christmas gifts for this year. ’We had a great weekend,’ said organizer Vicki Forsyth. ‘I was told people got there about 6:30 a.m. to get in line. When we arrived there were about 30 or so people in line. All the applicants were very nice and respectful, waiting patiently for their face-toface interview.’ As a result, things got started a little early and finished up just after 12 noon processing the last family. ’The Empty Stocking committee members all felt really good about our selections based on need,’ Forsyth said. ‘The faceto- face interviews also gave us an opportunity to gain more insight on the children as to their likes and dislikes. We approved 87 families with a total of 183 children. This is over the 150 children we had published as a maximum number.’ ESF was able to approve more children because Rock Springs made an early commitment to adopt a large number of children again this year as well as Southern Rivers calling in early to adopt a family. It also received three large donations from Bankston Lumber, Cary Bankston and Carters. ’For any Carters employees wishing to make a donation, Carters will match all donations to Empty Stocking up to $500,’ she said. Call Forsyth for more information at 770-584-6096. The Empty Stocking Tree will be going up at Slices. Drop off a new unwrapped toy or pick a tag off the tree and bring the toy back to Slices to receive a free beverage. ’We’re all excited and have begun to get our shopping lists together for our 24 hour Thanksgiving shop-a-thon,’ she said. Buggy Town Auctions will host a Thanksgiving night Christmas items and toy auction to begin at 5 p.m. and go until all items have been sold. During each sale they will also collect items that will be donated to Empty Stocking. ‘Go check them out for an old fashioned experience and some great deals,’ she said. ‘Listen for the cow bell. That signifies someone has donated an item to the toy box for Empty Stocking. May the cow bells ring all night long.’ Total donations are at $8021.38 as of Saturday. The donation goal this year is $22,500. Firefighters will be out collecting on Wednesday, Nov 22 and every Saturday until Christmas. ’Please drop your change or a few dollars in the boot whenever you see them out,’ she said. ‘It all adds up with great community support. You can also drop off a new unwrapped toy or any monetary donation to the Barnesville fire department.’ To adopt a child or family or put up an Empty Stocking adoption tree in a church or office, call Forsyth at 770-584-6096. This makes a great project for Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, Sunday School classes, offices and families. ’Without all the great community support over the years The Empty Stocking program would not be successful so thank you Lamar County,’ she said. ’We’re truly blessed to live in such a great community.’ Due to past problems Empty Stocking has encountered with purchased clothing items the committee has decided not to purchase clothing items in general. It will still continue to provide shoes as a Santa item under $50. If a child is adopted by outside resources the parents or guardians may be contacted for sizes as that group may wish to shop for shoes and clothing items. ’This will be on an individual basis,’ she said. ’Also, there are too many different systems and games to decipher from a general request so Empty Stocking will not purchase video games or video game systems that don’t promote learning. We won’t provide gift cards or cell phones. We may provide bikes if they are donated or able to be purchased within the $50 Santa item limit.’ Due to poor response in the past two years, Empty Stocking will no longer collect, sort and distribute canned goods to families. ’Last year we provided toys to just under 650 needy children in our area,’ said Forsyth. ‘As a community we should be extremely proud of ourselves that we’re able to come together to support such a worthy cause. Thank you to all who gave last year and I hope we can count on your generous donations this year. Look for the fire department out collecting on Saturdays and always remember you can drop off any money or toys to the city fire department.’ The ones who do not qualify for ESF will roll into Toys for Tots, run by Marine Corps League 1196 of Griffin for children ages 1-11. Toys for Tots applications can still be picked up and dropped off at the LCAC and Barnesville fire departments through Friday, Dec 2 for Lamar, Spalding, Pike, Butts and Upson counties. This not an income-based program. There are no rejections except outside the five county area or if a household has applied at multiple locations. Pickup day for all toys will be Saturday, Dec. 22 from 9:30 to 10 a.m. for Toys for Tots and 10-11:30 a.m. for ESF at the activity center

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