Empty Stocking program sees increase in children

Freedom New Mexico

The number of children the Salvation Army is hoping to help has almost doubled this holiday season, according to Maj. Kevin Ray.

Friday the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune will launch their annual Empty Stocking program in partnership with The Salvation Army.

Every day until Christmas, a local family in need of assistance for the holidays will be profiled in the CNJ and PNT.

The Empty Stocking program feeds funds into local holiday programs, Ray said.

Holiday programs include The Angel Tree, which provides toys to area children, as well as clothing provisions and a senior citizen commodities program that offers a box of food for holiday meals.

This year, more than 1,000 children are signed up for the Angel Tree program, Ray said, a significant increase from the roughly 600 children who participated last year.

About 350 applications have been submitted, Ray said, a slight increase from 300 last year, but it is the number of children per family that has increased.

More and more, he explained, aid workers are seeing non-traditional families in which grandparents are raising the children or single parents are struggling to make ends meet.

Ray said the program took in enough clothing and toys to help the children registered last year, plus about $8,000 that was used to provide holiday meals to older adults and in some cases assist families with rent and utility costs, “just to help them get through the seasons.”

Donations will be accepted through the end of the year, he said, but to aid in distribution, the Salvation Army is asking any clothing or toy donations be made by Dec. 19.

For information or to donate to a Salvation Army Christmas project, call Tammy Ray at 762-3801 or visit 317 E. Second St.

The Clovis News Journal is accepting Empty Stocking Fund donations at the newspaper office at 521 Pile St.

Donations may be mailed to the Clovis News Journal at P.O. Box 1689, Clovis, NM 88102. Envelopes should be clearly marked to indicate they contain a donation for the Empty Stocking Fund.

All contributions will be forwarded to the Salvation Army.

The Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune sponsor the Empty Stocking Fund and will continue to accept donations until the end of the year.