The names of nearly 3,000 children in need were left on Angel Trees across our area this Christmas. Thanks to you, they’ll never know.
Readers contributing to the Charlotte Observer Empty Stocking Fund provided gifts for all of those children, whose families had qualified for the assistance through the Salvation Army’s Christmas Center.
That’s the point of the Empty Stocking Fund. It ensures that the hope and joy of the holidays reaches the neediest among us. And it’s why readers have given generously to this fund since 1920.
This year, the fund also paid for gift cards for more than 1,400 elderly or disabled adults who needed help. And for the first time, the fund provided a box of groceries for each of nearly 6,000 families that had demonstrated financial need through the Christmas Center.
In all, the fund received 2,121 donations this year, totaling almost $350,000. Individual contributions ranged from $1 to $10,000, and averaged $164.
Some readers couldn’t stop at a donation. Moved by Observer stories about the recipients, they called the reporter, Mark Price, and insisted on doing more for individual families down on their luck.
One reader and his daughter treated a formerly homeless veteran and single mom to a shopping trip. “She is one of the loveliest, most gracious people I have ever dealt with,” he told Price later in an email. “She wants nothing for herself, but gives all to her children and is so proud of them.”
Crisis Assistance Ministry and the YMCA came to the rescue of a family that fled Hurricane Matthew and ended up living in their van in Charlotte. That family now lives in a subsidized apartment that hopefully they can afford.
Others who came to the Christmas Center will likely end up with jobs. For the first time, the Salvation Army simultaneously sponsored a jobs fair at the Center’s headquarters, a former big-box store at South Boulevard and Arrowood Road.
“The job fair was a new idea this year, like the food boxes, to try to help with more basic needs of struggling families,” said Major Larry Broome, area commander for The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte. “Employment is a big thing. People want to make their own way.”
Broome said he’s learned by sitting in on the interviews of applicants that this has always been about more than securing toys or a box of groceries.
“This is about hope and struggling to make it against what often seem to be insurmountable odds,” Broome said.
Thank you for extending hope to people who need it most.