11/29/06 — Christmas spirit: Empty Stocking Fund offers chance to help children

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Christmas spirit: Empty Stocking Fund offers chance to help children

You have to be there to really understand just how special the Empty Stocking Fund party is.

There will be hundreds of children lined up outside, waiting with their parents for a chance to come into what they must see as a magical fairyland.

They know they will meet Santa Claus — and that is enough if they are little. Getting a present from him is the thrill of their life.

Some are a bundle of personality — excited, eager to get started. Some are shy — hiding a bit, not sure what to expect.

Then their row is called to come get their clothes and their stocking and to pick out a toy.

And if you are there when they come, that is when you realize that every bit of money raised and every hour spent organizing was worth it.

It seems like every other minute, there is a reason to wipe away a tear and to be thankful that you were there to help.

One young man picked out his toy after politely allowing every other little boy to go first. He gave up what he really wanted — a working fire truck — to a smaller child. “Let him have it; he’s just a kid,” the 9-year-old told his elf.

Another young man waited patiently to see Santa Claus and then tried to hand him a dollar — a donation from his allowance. He wanted to help, he said.

And then there was the shy, little girl with the wide eyes. She knew just a little English. She hung back until a volunteer asked her — in Spanish — if she was ready to pick out her toy and to see Santa. A smile broke across her face as she slipped her hand into that of her new friend and headed for the toy pile.

So many of the children are concerned about others — sick siblings, friends who could not make the trip. And every once in a while, an older child chooses something for a younger sibling because it is more important that he or she has a Christmas gift.

Wayne County has made such moments possible for more than nearly a century. Generations have made sure that there is something special for every child under his or her Christmas tree.

We need your help to keep that tradition going.

There are more children than ever this year. Please take the time to write a check and send it to Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 10629, Goldsboro, N.C. 27532.

Help us and our community partners make the holidays happier for a needy child. We promise to share the smiles — and stories — with you.

Published in Editorials on November 29, 2006 11:13 AM