Empty Stocking Fund 2013

Empty Stocking Fund volunteers gather in Santa's workshop during their preparations for delivering gifts to needy Harford County families and senior citizens this pat holiday season. (Jane Brown, The Aegis / January 1, 2014)

Thanks to all the wonderful people of Harford County the Empty Stocking Fund raised $95,060 during the 2013 holiday season to help many people in need in the county have a brighter Christmas.

This year the locally based Christmas charity was able to help 308 families and 720 children with food, clothing, new toys and new books. Also aided this year were 120 Harford senior citizens who received food, gifts and help with essentials during the holidays.

In addition to the money raised, the Empty Stocking Fund also received thousands of new toys and new books and other donated gifts.

Started more than 20 years by employees of The Aegis, the Empty Stocking Fund is an all-volunteer organization. This year 60 volunteers, many of them former or retired Aegis employees and members of their families, collected toys and other gifts and distributed them to needy families and seniors, an effort that begins during the summer and will continue for the next few weeks.

This year, many cash donations were received ranging from a few dollars to $10,000 gifts from a Bel Air based business, Chesapeake Environmental Management, and from the Estate of Darrel Cooper, a longtime contributor to the fund who died in 2013. And, as has been the case for several year's, the area Klein's ShopRite supermarkets donated more than $7,000 from their annual Bagging for Hunger program with local celebrity baggers.

"It doesn't matter if you gave a dollar or hundreds, we appreciate everyone who contributed and who collected toys and other books," said Jane Brown, an Empty Stocking Fund volunteer. "Many thanks are extended to Harford County individuals, businesses, organizations, schools, churches, clubs and others who supported the Empty Stocking Fund this season.

Approximately 60 businesses, individuals, organizations, churches and schools served as toy collection sites this year, including 11 branches of the Harford County Public Libraries, Brown said.

Brown also expressed thanks on behalf of all the volunteers to Harford Community College employees for the many toys collected at their Holiday Christmas Party and donated to The Empty Stocking Fund, as well as to local groups whose performances of "The Nutcracker" and "Babes in Toyland" also provided for collection of toys to benefit the Empty Stocking fund.

"We also thank the Pier One Distributor of Aberdeen and the SHRA group at HCC for collecting toys for the Empty Stocking Fund," Brown added.

The fund also received Christmas week donations from DaVita Dialysis, on Emmorton Road in Bel Air, $1,000; and from W. Bruce Grammer, $200; as well as several anonymous donations.

And, once again, many donations of toys, books and small amounts of money were received from children wanting to help other less fortunate children in the county have a merry Christmas.

"May each one who gave toys, held toy drives, gave monetary donations , knitted hats , gloves, scarves, volunteered their time and service have a happy and healthy 2014," Brown said.