CHIPLEY — For thousands of local residents, the success of the annual Empty Stocking Fund campaign determines if their stockings will be full, if fresh food will be on the table for Christmas Day and if toys will be under the tree for their children.
The success of the Empty Stocking Fund, according to those who organize it, is determined by the people who make that decision to donate, who for four decades have dug deep through good times and bad to make sure those less fortunate have something else to be grateful for each Christmas.
The Empty Stocking Fund, sponsored by The Washington County News, The Holmes County Times-Advertiser, The Panama City News Herald, and Bill Cramer Chevrolet (formerly Tommy Thomas Chevrolet), is an annual fundraising event that raises awareness of the need for support of The Salvation Army's programs and services.
The Panama City chapter of the Salvation Army serves Washington, Holmes, Bay, Gulf , Franklin, Jackson, Calhoun and Liberty Counties.
The Empty Stocking Fund began more than 30 years ago, when Salvation Army board member Tommy Thomas and The News Herald joined forces to bring holiday cheer to the area’s needy families. The first goal was $20,000. The fund’s target has grown since and the campaign has raised almost $3 million.
Each year, when the goal is reached, Bill Cramer Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC donates an additional $5,000.
Envelopes are included in this week’s copies of the Washington County News and Holmes County Times-Advertiser so our readers can contribute to the Empty Stocking Fund.
Donations can be mailed to either of these addresses: The Empty Stocking Fund, c/o The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 540, Panama City, FL 32402; or The News Herald, P.O. Box 1940, Panama City, FL 32402.
You also may drop off donations at the Washington County News office, 1364 N. Railroad Ave., Chipley, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
You may make donations anonymously, in the giver’s name or in someone’s memory.
Salvation Army staff process the contributions, then give an update to the Panama City News Herald on those who have contributed. The News Herald regularly publishes those names. (Donors can choose to remain anonymous).