Empty Stocking Club provides gift of toys, hope at Christmastime
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Empty Stocking Club provides gift of toys, hope at Christmastime

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Toy Depot

Parents choose toys at the Empty Stocking Club Toy Deport on Dec. 11, 2019, at Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. 

Some people may wonder whether giving a child a toy at Christmas makes much difference.

We’ve seen over the years that it matters — a lot.

Since 1918, the Wisconsin State Journal and its readers have partnered through the Empty Stocking Club to spread holiday cheer to families in need. The goal is simple: make sure every child has at least one nice, new gift to open at Christmastime.

Empty Stocking Club logo

For families struggling to provide basic necessities, having something to give their children for Christmas can provide hope — for both parents and children.

We know this because that’s what they tell us.

Sometimes, our recipients grow up to become our donors. “Empty Stocking Club made my Christmas as a child,” wrote one person who donated $25 during a prior fund drive. “Thanks to all.” And parents who were served one year may donate the next, when their circumstances are better.

The process works like this: Readers donate funds, and we buy the toys, find the families and set up a Toy Depot to distribute them. Parents come and choose one gift for each child from a selection of about 180 unique items. It looks a little like the aisles of a discount store during the holidays.

With your generous help, we serve children from infants to age 18. This year, the program gave away more than 9,300 toys and served nearly 3,000 families.

We rely on readers’ donations to make this happen.

Part of the Empty Stocking Club’s tradition for years has included running the names of every donor, no matter the size of contribution, as a way to say thank you and celebrate the generosity of the community.

Sometimes, donations are made in someone’s memory. This year’s donation lists so far reflect that many people donated more than $2,000 in memory of Leonard W. “Bill” Faust, the founder of Bill’s Food Center in Oregon, who died Nov. 21.

We also rely on contributions from organizations of both time and money. The United Way of Dane County contributed $10,000 and countless volunteer hours to our cause.

It’s not too late to be part of the Empty Stocking Club. We are still short of our annual goal of raising $300,000 to serve even more children in the future. We need your help to reach it.

You can make your gift online at emptystockingclub.com or mail it to:

The Empty Stocking Club

Wisconsin State Journal

Box 8056

Madison, WI 53708

Throwback photos: Empty Stocking Club over the years

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