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 want to spend time with my great-grandchildren at Christmas. At my age and my income, I do not have the money to do anything for my family. At my age, I would love to spend as much time as possible with the children. They are in daycare and their parents work, and I don’t have a car, so I have to wait until someone can bring them to visit me. It’s the time of the year to be with family, and I want to be with my family. So because of shoulder surgery and a stay at BayView, there is no social life. My shoulder surgery has set me back with limited activity, and with your help I could have a very meaningful Christmas with my family. I appreciate all of your help.”
“I am a single mother of four amazing children and get no help from their dads. We live paycheck to paycheck barely able to afford bills. I get a lot taken out of my checks and only bring home $200 every 2 weeks. Christmastime is always a struggle for me to buy them clothes and presents. My middle daughter, Audrey, has Shone’s complex and is currently waiting on her next surgery that may be in Boston for a mitral valve repair.”
“I am currently unemployed. I recently finished treatment of radiation and chemo for cancer. I did get a temp position with a temp service, but I am no longer under their employment to help with the bills. I would appreciate any help with clothing, food, and toys for the holidays.”
To learn more about The Empty Stocking Fund or to donate, visit www.unitedway-sjc.org/emptystocking.