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 mom of two who is barely making it. Holidays are a very stressful time because it’s only me who has to get them everything they need. Without help, they won’t get very many gifts, and I don’t want my struggling to fall on the girls when it’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year. They deserve the world!”
“I would like to have a nice Christmas for my son, because he is losing his vision. He is upset that he can’t see. I’d like to put a smile on his face. I’d like to help my granddaughter, because she lost her mother and put a smile on her face as well. I’d also like to help my great granddaughter – it’s her first Christmas. I don’t make enough to get them anything, all my bills are high.”
“This past year has been very difficult for us financially. I was laid off from my job in May, and it took a long time to get another one. When I did, it’s mostly part time. I am behind on all my bills, including rent. For the first time ever, we are facing eviction. Because of this, I absolutely have no money to spend on my 2 terrific children who deserve a great holiday.”
“I am a senior on a fixed income. Though I am very blessed to be a recent (9 months) resident of Alpha Omega Miracle Home, sometimes it can be hard to make ends meet…Your help would be greatly appreciated and put to needful things and good use. Merry Christmas and may God richly bless you.”
To learn more about The Empty Stocking Fund or to donate, visit www.unitedway-sjc.org/emptystocking.