12/10/06 — Empty Stocking Fund memory prompts resident to give back

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Empty Stocking Fund memory prompts resident to give back

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on December 10, 2006 2:00 AM

When 64-year-old Faye Bartlett writes out a check for the Empty Stocking Fund, she remembers a little girl's bleak Christmas many years ago.

Mrs. Bartlett's story starts when she was in the third grade in Elm City.

That October, her father had a massive fatal heart attack that killed him.

Warren Thornton had been a tenant farmer, and the family didn't have much money.

Mrs. Bartlett was the oldest of four children and times got tough for the family.

"You can imagine how devastated Mom was and what was put on her shoulders at that time," she said.

Mrs. Bartlett's mother, Grace, moved the family back to Pikeville to live with her father and to help him on his farm. The following summer, Mrs. Thornton fell off a tractor and broke her leg, preventing her from farming anymore.

So, she moved her family to Goldsboro and took a job with the Pepsi Cola Co.

To help make ends meet, Mrs. Thornton applied for welfare, but was denied. She was told that to receive any help, she would have to sell her late husband's car. She refused.

Life was dismal for the family -- until that magical Christmas.

Mrs. Bartlett doesn't know how she and her siblings happened to be invited to the Empty Stocking Fund Christmas party the year she was 9, but they went -- Faye, Lila, Peggy and Douglas.

She said the event was held at the Paramount Theater that year. "I saw the stage with all those stockings on it," she said. "The people would call the children up to get their things. Sometimes they brought stuff out to the children.

"I was very excited waiting for my name to be called. It was just so good that we were going to get something for Christmas."

Mrs. Bartlett said she also remembers getting fruit. "And I got a coloring book. I loved to color; it was my favorite thing. Momma said she thought the girls also got dresses and my brother a shirt."

Of course, the hit of the party was seeing Santa Claus.

Mrs. Bartlett said there so little at home and that party gave the children a Christmas they would never forget.

Today, Mrs. Bartlett is a teacher's assistant at Meadow Lane Elementary School and is financially able to give back to the Empty Stocking Fund.

"I'm just thankful I can give now," she said. "There are so many children out there that need things."

Mrs. Bartlett said she might not remember everything she got that day 55 years ago, but she does remember what a good feeling it gave her that Christmas.

There is still time to be part of the Empty Stocking Fund's holiday party. To help make a child's Christmas dream come true, send a check to the Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 10629, Goldsboro, N.C. 27532.

The cost of this year's party is more than $36,000. More than 660 children are on the guest list -- all waiting for a chance to believe that there really is a Santa Claus. We are not even halfway toward this year's goal. We need your help to make it. Every little bit helps, so please give what you can. If you want to dedicate your donation to a loved one who has passed on, or a special person in your life, make a notation on the check.