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Thanks to you, our readers, there are many more happy faces today across southern Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin State Journal’s Empty Stocking Club, which buys toys for children in need each Christmas, helped about 4,000 families and gave away more than 15,000 toys this year.

For nearly 100 years, the Empty Stocking Club has been brightening the holiday season for many children who would otherwise not have anything to open on Christmas morning. The goal today is the same as it was in 1918: No child should have an empty stocking on Dec. 25.

Each year, the State Journal partners with its readers to keep this promise to area children. Readers donate money, and the newspaper’s charity buys the toys and distributes them to families who need help.

Businesses also help our cause, both by sending volunteers to work at our Toy Depot distribution site, and through generous donations. This year, $10,000 donations came from both UW Provision Co. and Target, where we buy the toys.

Every donation matters, no matter the size, as it brings us closer to meeting our goal. We print the names of every donor in the newspaper as a show of our thanks and a tribute to the generosity in our community.

It seems like a simple thing — to make sure all children have something to open during the holiday season. And it is.

But it’s also meaningful. You can see it in the faces of the parents and grandparents who come to our Toy Depot distribution site to find just the right toy for each child on their list. They are appreciative of the kindness, excited by the choices and very relieved they will have something to offer their family this year.

Each year, we are moved by the need we see in our community. There are homeless families, with parents struggling to find a way to meet basic needs. There are also grandparents raising grandchildren. And there are many others who just find themselves in need of an extra hand. This year, there was even a homeless teenager who came with a social-service provider simply looking for a stocking cap.

Thank you, generous readers, for once again helping us make a difference for these families.

You can still contribute to the Empty Stocking Club’s efforts. You can do so online at emptystockingclub.com. Or mail a check to: Empty Stocking Club, Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8056, Madison, WI 53708.

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