The Empty Stocking provides Christmas gifts for all of the foster children in Calhoun and Cleburne Counties under DHR Custody. In addition, we also provide Christmas gifts to indigent patients residing in area nursing homes.
Empty Stocking, Inc. was established in 1989. Sue Taylor saw the need to help underprivileged children in the Calhoun and Cleburne County area. In the Fall of 1989, Sue Taylor and Colleen Roberts had just finished a table setting at Grace Church. While they were cleaning up, Sue asked Colleen, “Do you have time for a cup of coffee? I have an idea I would like to talk to you about.” Colleen said, “yes.” Off they went to Hardee’s where they talked about Sue’s idea. At first, Colleen thought Sue had lost her mind. The two of them decided to call the Department for Human Resources in Anniston to ask what their greatest need for children was. They said, “Christmas for the foster children, because most of the gifts the foster children received were purchased by DHR employees with money from their own pockets!” Well, everyone knows what pushovers Sue and Colleen are, so off they went to get on the telephone. The first call went to Larry Deason (not knowing he was on the board of DHR). He immediately said, “yes, he and Betty would love to help.” When all was said and done, there were ten sponsors. They were:
- Glenn & Anna Berry
- Gary & Johnnie Fay Ray
- Larry & Betty Deason
- Jimmie & Colleen Roberts
- Joe & Margaret Griffin
- Wayne & Jan Smith
- Max and Jane Payne
- Tommy & Sue Taylor
- Carey & Sally Lewis
- Horace & Sara Thrower
After many hours of discussion and planning, those ten couples sponsored the first annual Empty Stocking Gala. What transpired that evening surpassed all the expectations of the couples that sponsored the party! There was wonderful entertainment, dancing, food, beverages, and best of all $11,000 was raised for the children!
Working with the Department of Human Resources in Calhoun and Cleburne County, the ten couples took the money, and with the tremendous cooperation and support of Wal-Mart did all of the shopping for the children. For the first time, every foster child in Calhoun and Cleburne County received Christmas presents. By the way, those presents came from “wish lists” that every child had filled out.
Due to the overwhelming success of that evening, the great response from the people who attended the Gala, and the happiness that the party afforded the foster children, it was decided unanimously that The Empty Stocking Gala would become an annual event.