LIMA — The region is full of proud parents who will do whatever it takes to make sure their children have presents to open Christmas morning. Sometimes they just need a little help.
Every day between now and Christmas, though, The Lima News and its partner agencies will share stories about parents who, despite their best efforts, struggle to meet basic needs, much less deliver happy holiday memories for the children in their lives.
“A lot of times, you don’t know the needs of people,” said Mary Monford, the director of the Mizpah Community Center. “The Empty Stocking Fund has a way of getting people’s needs met. That’s the true meaning of Christmas, giving.”
The program benefits the Bradfield Community Center, Mizpah Community Center and the Salvation Army. Money can be donated via The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, OH 45807, or by dropping it off at any Superior Credit Union branch. Donations of new toys and nonperishable food items will also be accepted at The Lima News office.
Many Empty Stocking Fund families this year remind readers how close to needing the fund anyone could be:
• One mother faced her third back surgery of the year, hurting her chances of affording a nice Christmas for her children.
• A family struggles to keep the utilities on and take care of children and grandchildren as the man’s work becomes less steady.
• A two-income family shrinks down to one after a father’s seizures keep him from working, putting more pressure on the mother to support their two young children.
Over the past 25 years, the program raised $716,817, including $31,527 last year.
“The Lima News is very proud to support this worthy cause, and once again we’re happy to accept donations during the 26th year of such an important event,” said Doug Olsson, vice president of AIM Media Midwest and publisher of The Lima News. “In today’s world, finding ways to support those in need is more critical than ever. We thank you for the support.”
Mizpah will use its share of the fundraising to provide coats, gloves, shoes and some new clothes for children using the center in Lima’s south end, Monford said. The agency itself has its own wish list, including computers to boost its children’s after-school program.
At Bradfield Community Center a few blocks north of Mizpah, the Empty Stocking Fund provides the money to provide 25 to 30 families with a full holiday, including a meal and meaningful presents for the children, said Bradfield executive director Kesha Drake.
“It’s a blessing to be able to serve others by meeting a need they may have,” she said. “This is what the Empty Stocking Fund continues to allow us to do.”
Similarly, the funds help the Salvation Army do a little more for its clients throughout the region who are most in need.
“I believe it provides them with an extra hope, an extra encouragement for the holidays,” said Major Debbie Stacy, of the Salvation Army, “knowing they’re not forgotten, knowing they’re loved and thought of during the holidays.”
Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.