Annual Empty Stocking Fund helps brighten holiday season for many
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent November 24, 2012 11:22PM
How to help
Here’s how to participate in the Post-Tribune’s Empty Stocking Fund collection drive, which helps low-income families through the local Boys & Girls Clubs. The contribution deadline is Dec. 7.
Make checks or money orders payable to Boys and Girls Clubs and send them to:
THE EMPTY STOCKING FUND
1433 E. 83rd Ave.
Merrillville IN 46410
Updated: December 26, 2012 6:21AM
Christmas is supposed to be a time of festivities and family meals, good cheer and gifts under a brightly lit tree.
For many families in the region, though, those images are a dream, not a reality, as job loss, illness and other challenges take precedence over the holiday season.
“During tough economic times, families are struggling to provide for their families. With the help of the community, we can provide assistance to families who cannot afford to buy presents for their children during the holidays,” said Susan Griffin, circulation sales and marketing manager for the Post-Tribune.
Since 1998, the Post-Tribune’s Empty Stocking Fund, in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Clubs in Lake and Porter counties, has provided financial assistance to families in need, raising tens of thousands of dollars and helping parents give their children a Christmas they might not have otherwise. The fund raised $4,395 last year.
“I think this provides that much-needed hope at a critical time of the year,” said Ryan Smiley, director of operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County.
Families often cry with joy when they find out they have been selected for the Empty Stocking Fund, said Kris Balog, director of the Boys & Girls Club in Cedar Lake. She grew up going to the club, and has worked there for 26 years.
“For some of the families, it means a traditional meal instead of no meal,” she said.
Admitting the need for financial assistance is not an easy thing for a family to do, Smiley said. Stepping forward takes courage, he said.
“I applaud them for that, and now we are going to create a brighter holiday season for them because of their courage,” he said.
As the program has continued over the years, Balog said, families have become more comfortable asking for help.
“Because of how successful it’s become, it’s more acceptable to take the help and people are more willing to be a part of it,” she said, adding matching families with the assistance they need is “such a warm feeling.”
Griffin hopes the community will take the Empty Stocking Fund as an opportunity to help others this holiday season.
“You can make a difference this holiday season by making a donation. No amount is too small. All donations are sent to the Boys & Girls Clubs for families in need,” she said. “Please make a donation today. Every child deserves a gift on Christmas.”