LIMA — Vickie Fowler stood in line at Walmart on Friday afternoon, buying gifts for the children in the after-school programs at Mizpah Community Center. The beep-beep-beep of the scanner might as well have been playing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” in the background.
“I’m standing here, with all this stuff laid out, knowing there’s just no way we could’ve done this without the Empty Stocking Fund,” she said.
Each day from Thanksgiving through Christmas, The Lima News shares a story about a family in need in the region. Donations of cash and items fulfilling specific needs help make the holiday season brighter for each family.
The campaign raised $9,210 in its first two weeks, but it remains well short of its goal of $35,000 for the program’s 25th year.
The program supports Christmas events at the Bradfield Community Center and Mizpah Community Center in Lima, as well helping the Salvation Army’s holiday efforts.
People can donate money, nonperishable food items or new toys to the program at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima. Monetary donations can be made at Superior Credit Union locations.
At Bradfield, executive director Kesha Drake said this year’s donations go toward gifts for children in its program.
“I know for some families, this is the only option they have to do something for their children,” Drake said. “With the dollar amount we receive, we’re making sure it has an impact.”
Fowler, the president of Church Women United and one of the volunteers keeping Mizpah operating, couldn’t keep her gratitude under control. The group continues to prepare for a dinner with Santa next Friday for those 50 to 55 pupils in kindergarten through sixth grade.
“They wouldn’t have Christmas,” Fowler said. “Some don’t know who they’re going home with at night. They’re not getting meals except at the center and turning around at the school in the morning for breakfast. … We’ve got a lot of parents dealing with drug addiction, making it really tough.”
Enrollment is already closed at Bradfield to receive the gifts, and the program should be handing them out in the next two weeks, said Drake, who’s in her third Christmas leading Bradfield’s collaboration with the Empty Stocking Fund.
She marveled at the program.
“It’s meeting a real need for some families unable to provide any gifts for their children,” Drake said.
Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.