Empty Stocking Fund looks for more applicants to apply for free Christmas toys

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, November 10, 2020

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The Empty Stocking Fund was started almost five decades ago in Troup County to help families provide a Christmas for their children or grandchildren. 

Paul Stedman, who is with LaGrange Personal Aid and over the Stocking Fund, is taking applications until Nov. 30. 

“We just want people to be aware that we are here if they need it,” Stedman said. “If COVID has affected their factory, closed the factory they were working at or lost they lost their job, we are here if they need toys.” 

Stedman said that toys are purchased at low cost, received as donations or are provided by the local Toys for Tots. 

The Empty Stocking Fund was originally started by the Jaycees.  Then it was run by the Pilot Club, with LaGrange Personal Aid doing the screening. When the Pilot Club decided to disband, LaGrange Personal Aid took it over and have continued to provide for low-income and needy families.

“We do ages one to ten for the toys,” Stedman said. “They have to be a resident of Troup County, except for Hogansville who has their own stocking fund. We have a variety of toys that are really nice.”

The Empty Stocking Fund has its primary donations come in from the United Way and the Joe Harris Fund. 

To apply to have your name added to the list, call 706-882-9291. 

Stedman said applicants must be able to provide a Georgia picture ID and show the total income of the family for the last 30 days. 

“We’ve had to make some adjustments because of COVID,” Stedman said. “In the past couple of years, we’ve had the parents coming in and they would actually shop for their children and choose their toys. Because of COVID, we’re not able to do that this year, but we’ll make sure that the children still get really good, nice toys.”

Stedman said that without the toy drive, some families wouldn’t be able to provide Christmas presents for their children. 

“They are always so grateful,” Stedman said. “The people who came last year they, they went out with buggies full of toys for their kids. We not only help with toys but books as well.” 

Stedman said in years past they’ve helped up to 300 families. 

“This year we don’t have those kinds of numbers in applicants,” Stedman said. “So, we really want people to know there is still time to apply. It’s here, and it’s available.”