Empty Stocking plans to distribute the toys which Blue Santa took in from the annual Toy Drive and the blue barrels on Saturday December 14, 2019. There will be additional toys for the kids, too, purchased at Market over the summer with the monetary donations taken in last year. Also, Secret Santa shoppers went to local stores last week to supplement gifts for the teens. This years campaign will serve over 300 families which totals more than 800 children. It is a very exciting and gratifying time for local volunteers!
Actually, CANHelp finds the families in need through a sign-up held during the early Autumn. Blue Santa gathers the toys for the families through October and November and the first week of December. Then, Empty Stocking distributes the toys. According to Co-ordinator Amy Griggs, Hopkins County always hosts quite a large Blue Santa operation. During the two weeks before distribution day, numerous individuals, family groups and members of civic groups come together to sort and pack the boxes. The boxes are then distributed on a designated day to the families of the children on the sign-up list compiled by CanHelp. When we say it takes a village to do this project…we mean it to be true! This Saturday morning, the SS police department, HC sheriff office, HCSO Posse along with a group of First Baptist Church deacons will oversee the vehicle lines formed by the recipients. The boxes of unwrapped toys are donated to the families as a means to supplement their children’s Christmas.
Here is the story of how Hopkins County Empty Stocking started, as well as how it came together with Blue Santa.
Empty Stocking began in the early 1970’s as a project of the Hopkins County Ministerial Alliance. The Texas Department of Health and Human Resources asked each community to address the needs of the poor during Christmas. Several ministers asked the woman of their congregations to help and a core group was established. Pat Johnson, Carolyn Stewart, Nancy Barton, Ann Sewell and Dorothy Ponder were just a few of those that helped the program get started. Their mission was always to preserve the dignity of the family. For this reason, the toys were given to the parents a few weeks prior to Christmas so that the gifts could be from the parents and the children might not ever know where they came from. As the program grew they decided to fulfill the legal requirements to attend the Dallas Toy Market each year to buy toys in bulk. Several locations were used to store toys over the years, but the toys are now stored at Grocery Supply Company.
In the early 2000’s there were three groups essentially doing the same thing: Empty Stocking, Angel Tree and Blue Santa. These three groups finally came together into the present system of Blue Santa and Empty Stocking working together to raise money, purchase and distribute toys while Angel Tree concentrates on clothing items.
We look to serve over 300 families this year. That translates to 4,000+ toys! Signups for families are done through CanHelp. Local law enforcement and other departments put on a Toy Drive the first week of December at Lowe’s parking lot. Toy distribution will be held at FUMC in Sulphur Springs on Saturday December 14, 2019.