Barnesville-Lamar County has a wellearned reputation as a community full of folks with big hearts who give generously for good causes when called upon.Tough economic times may have cut into how much some of us give but the willingness to give has not abated.In the recent Operation Christmas Child effort, the local center collected 3183 shoeboxes full of Christmas gifts for children in third world and war-torn countries around the globe. That is simply an amazing response.Sadly, there are hundreds of needy children right here in our own backyard that rely on adults other than those in their own families to provide Christmas cheer.For generations that need has been met by the local Empty Stocking Fund Drive which is run completely by volunteers and counts on the generosity of the community to put smiles on kids’ faces at Christmas.Certainly there are those out there who would take advantage of such an effort by misrepresenting their circumstances and taking gifts that could have gone to children who were truly needy. The Empty Stocking Fund vets its applicants with the help of the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services and other agencies and this seems to weed out most of the would-be scam artists.Regardless, needy kids are needy kids no matter if that need arises out of the sorriness of their own parents. Sadly, that is often the case but Christmas is a time to ignore the cause and address the need.Glenn Forsyth has long helped spearhead the local Empty Stocking Fund drive. He reports his team has identified 73 needy families and a total of 206 kids they intend to help this Christmas but that effort is being stymied by a lack of cash.’The main thing we need is funds. Our funds are low. The money is just not coming in this year like it has in the past,’ Forsyth said.So, the opportunity is there for you to help.You can adopt a family as many local churches and their congregations are doing. If you can help, call Glenn at 770-468-1253. You can also attend the Business After Hours which benefits the Empty Stocking Fund Thursday at United Bank from 5-7 p.m. Bring a monetary donation or some unwrapped toys for needy kids when you come and join in the effort to brighten Christmas morning for those in our community who need it most.I know this community will answer the call! Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.