Every year, United Way of St. Johns County takes in donations for The Empty Stocking Fund. The fund has a simple but beautiful impetus – no one should have to dread the holidays. We all know the stress that this time of year can bring, whether that be family gatherings or a busy season at work or (sometimes most of all) gift giving. Many of us will never know the heartbreak, though, of feeling unable financially to give your children a magical holiday. They see the movies and the ads and the piles of presents that paint a picture of what the holidays should be, but many children will never experience that. That’s where The Empty Stocking Fund comes in. Many families in St. Johns County have to choose between putting presents under the tree and keeping the lights on. The Empty Stocking Fund empowers parents and guardians of children by providing them with an opportunity to give their children the gift of a special holiday season. Donations go to food, clothing, and toys for these families.
The people that The Empty Stocking Fund benefits are members of our local community, so as we move closer to the holiday season, we wanted to share with you their stories in their own words. Even though these stories are anonymous, they can help you see the real-world impact of even the smallest of donations.
“I am a single mother of two amazing children, a girl age 4 and a boy age 2. After three years of physical, emotional, and financial abuse, I left my husband, my sisters, my children’s belongings, and the place I grew up. I came to St. Augustine on August 12, 2019 in hopes to regain my life back – a healthy one for me and my children! To provide them with a safe, happy, environment, I live with my 94-year-old grandmother. I have a job, but after gas, daycare, and groceries, there is no extra money. My children are happier and healthier now so for that we’ve been blessed. We are safe. I really need help for Christmas, my babies are growing so fast! I pray they are blessed with a Christmas miracle!”
“Our income is quite low for a family of our size (3 adults and 6 children). After paying our basic bills, there is little left for anything else. It would be a great blessing to us if we are able to receive help for Christmas gifts for the children. Thank you for reaching out to the community.”
“I lost my job and really need help with Christmas for my 2 kids. This year has been a little off – living paycheck to paycheck is really hard, and we’re struggling. I would really love the help…It would really take the weight off of my shoulders to know my kids would have a good Christmas this year. Thank you!”
“I’m a single mother of 2 boys. This past year has been very hard. I was diagnosed with kidney failure, and with dialysis, I am now working part time. It’s very hard taking care of [the kids] when both fathers are absent from their lives. My 3-year-old also has a heart condition which requires monthly physical therapy. I still work as much as possible at Krystal.”
To learn more about The Empty Stocking Fund or to donate, visit www.unitedway-sjc.org/emptystocking.