Empty Stocking Fund gears up

Lea McGee, director of the annual Henry F. Selcer Memorial Empty Stocking Fund, is shown with toys collected for the program in this December 2018 News Messenger file photo. The charity is now gearing up for the 2021 Christmas giveaway season.

The annual Henry F. Selcer Memorial Empty Stocking Fund is gearing up for the Christmas season, welcoming families in need to begin applying for the service now.

“We’re taking some applications and starting to raise some money,” said Lea McGee, director for the Christmas charity.

The organization will begin taking applications, starting Wednesday at the Empty Stocking Fund’s office, located at the former Trinity Episcopal Preschool building, at 107 N. Grove St., across from Trinity Episcopal Church.

Families who wish to apply may call the Empty Stocking office at (903) 472-8649 to make an appointment to sign up.

For appointments, families will need to bring: a valid ID, birth certificates for each child; proof of residency, proof of income, proof of food stamps, proof of child support and proof of federal or state assistance.’’

Through the Empty Stocking Fund, parents can apply for their children to receive Christmas presents they might not otherwise get. The program is in its 107th year of providing Christmas gifts to children throughout the county. Each year in Harrison County, the fund assists about 300 children from ages 12 and under.

The children receive about five items, including a “need,” a “want” and a “wish,” along with books, games and toys they can use as a family.

Monetary and tangible donations are always welcomed to help the program reach its goal.

“I’m assuming it’s going to be somewhat of a demanding year with the economy,” said McGee. “Hopefully we won’t have issues getting toys.”

“We’re just going to play it by ear and take as many applications I feel we can handle,” she said. “Hopefully all will go smooth as it did last year.

“Everyone was so giving, even with the economy so many in the community took care of others as needed,” she said, reflecting on last year’s benevolence. “It amazes me how Harrison County really takes care of the children here.”

The Empty Stocking Fundy was founded back in 1914 to provide toys and gifts to underprivileged children in the county for Christmas. The charity was started by Elizabeth Scully, a grocer’s daughter, after noticing how many families came in the store in need of assistance.

The tradition was then carried on by Father Henry Selcer from Trinity Episcopal Church and continued by McGee’s grandmother-in-law, and then McGee. It’s been a tradition that she’s been honored to be a part of.

For more information, visit the organization’s Facebook page or website at www.emptystockingmarshall.org.

For monetary donations, please mail checks to: Henry F. Selcer Memorial Empty Stocking Fund, PO Box 2161, Marshall, Texas 75671.

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