TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
Signups for the 26th Annual Southeast Kentucky Empty Stocking Fund have ended.
A total of 412 children were signed up for the campaign Thursday and Friday at Forest Lanes in Corbin. Friday’s total came to 230. On Thursday, 182 children were registered.
This year’s signups were moved up a week earlier than usual due to Rotary International’s district conference in Louisville.
Empty Stocking Fund President Joe Caldwell said the campaign usually gets more children and families to sign up than the fund is able to serve. As a result, they’re looking for people and organizations to help the fund out, especially those who haven’t participated in the fund over the last few years.
He added the campaign will start collecting contributions as soon as donors wish to make them available.
Children from Whitley, Knox and Laurel counties from ages newborn to 17 from low-income or no-income families were eligible to participate in the campaign.
Caldwell noted almost all the children accepted into the program do not participate in any other nonprofit groups’ Christmas parties.
“Sometimes, more than 250 other children sign up for the Empty Stocking Fund, but we don’t have the funds to serve them. Those children are usually placed with other nonprofits,” according to the letter.
Each child receives a wrapped Christmas gift, athletic shoes and five pairs of socks. Each family receives a blanket, board games, books, candy and, sometimes, a bicycle.
Once contributions begin to come in, donors and gift levels are recognized, which continue through the month of December. Gifts and other items are then purchased by Rotary Club members and, ultimately, wrapped for the Christmas party.
This year’s Christmas Party will be at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, at Forest Lanes. Gov. Steve Beshear — who came to the party in 2009 — has been invited to attend again, along with other state and area officials.
Caldwell pointed out major corporate sponsors for this year include Rudd Equipment, Walmart and all major banks. As in years past, Forest Lanes will provide free bowling for the children, along with Pizza and Company providing free pizza for the kids, and Waste Connections providing new bicycles for some of the children.
Wrapping of the gifts for the party takes place the night before, Thursday, Dec. 19, at a site and time to be announced later.
Last year’s campaign served 501 children and 260 families.
Started in 1988, the Southeast Kentucky Empty Stocking Fund is co-sponsored by the Corbin Rotary Club and the Times-Tribune.
This year’s goal is to serve more than 500 children and their families, and to raise $38,000 to buy Christmas gifts, clothing and other items for them.
Contributions can be sent to the Southeast Kentucky Empty Stocking Fund, P. O. Box 511, Corbin, KY 40702. For more information, contact any Corbin Rotary member, or Caldwell at 606-524-6475 or 606-878-7935.