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Empty Stocking Fund

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Gifts for her grandkids

Charlotte woman hopes for gifts for youngsters amid tough times

More Information

  • Empty Stocking Fund
  • List of donors
  • 2012 Giving Guide
  • The Empty Stocking Fund

    Newspaper readers in Charlotte have contributed to the Empty Stocking Fund since about 1920. Last year, readers contributed nearly $270,000 to buy gifts for low-income children at Christmas. All money contributed goes to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Bureau, which buys toys, food, clothing and gift cards for families. To qualify, a recipient must submit verification of income, an address and other information that demonstrates need. For five days in mid-December, up to 3,000 volunteers help distribute the gifts to families at a vacant department store. The name of every person who contributes to the Empty Stocking Fund will be published on this page daily. If the contributor gives in someone’s memory or honor, we’ll print that person’s name, too. Contributors can remain anonymous.


  • How to help

    Send checks to Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 37269, Charlotte NC 28237-7269 or go to charlotteobserver.com/emptystockingfund and use PayPal. For questions about how to help families, call Salvation Army Donor Relations: 704-714-4725. Registration has been closed for families seeking help. Donations so far: $213,771. List of donors, 2A



There’s not much that Quantrena Falls wants out of life.

It would be nice to go back to school, she said, to study sign language or a foreign language.

And it would also be nice, one day, to replace her 1991 Geo Prism and the thousands of miles it’s logged over the years.

But the 45-year-old lifelong Charlotte resident figures those things can wait.

Falls is a stay-at-home grandmom to JaQuentis Lindsay, 4, and Jahzara Lindsay, 10 months. Her two adult children also live in her three-bedroom apartment near Archdale Drive and Old Pineville Road.

“I told them, ‘Don’t worry about getting anything for me for Christmas as long as my grandkids have what they want,’ ” Falls said.

Falls said the apartment can get crowded, but trips with her grandchildren to Park Road Park, Bible study on Wednesday, and Sunday school on the weekends are a pleasant reprieve.

The grandchildren are among some 6,000 area youngsters registered for help from the Salvation Army’s Christmas Bureau. The bureau, with help from the Observer’s Empty Stocking Fund, will provide gifts for roughly 14,000 children this year.

Falls received help from the Salvation Army earlier in her life.

At 21, she was a young mom raising two children and battling clinical depression. The illness made getting out of bed difficult and going to work nearly impossible.

Now, years later, the family is fighting the economic downturn in Charlotte.

In 2011, nearly 30 percent of children younger than 5 years old in North Carolina lived in poverty, according to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s up from 22.6 percent in 2007.

In Mecklenburg County, 23.8 percent of kids younger than 18 lived in poverty last year, compared with 13.8 percent five years ago, data show.

Falls said money has been tight in recent years. The family scrapes by on food stamps, Social Security, housing vouchers and disability payments for her depression.

The situation got worse, when Falls’ son, DaAnton, 22, lost his job as a cook more than a year ago. He’s been looking for a new job but has yet to land one.

Her 24-year-old daughter, QuanMeshia, JaQuentis and Jahzara’s mom, spends most of her days in cosmetology school. She’ll graduate in March, Falls said.

“I want to go to school, but I’m letting my daughter do what she needs to do,” Falls said. “I don’t want her to be missing out.”

Until then, Falls will continue to care for and entertain the grandkids (though they mainly entertain each other, and her, she admits).

She said JaQuentis loves to play with electronics and trains and wants a race-car bed for Christmas. But Falls thinks clothes might be a better option for the 4-year-old.

Besides, Falls said, she’s already told the boy that life can be difficult and sometimes you can’t get what you want.

“We’re dealing with (the financial situation),” Falls said. “We’re not complaining about it. I’m praying that something better comes available.”

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