Empty Stocking Fund needs record to serve all 1,950 children

The math, in a word, is daunting.

There are 1,950 children representing 875 families in Robeson County who have been deemed eligible to receive a $50 voucher from the Empty Stocking Fund so that they, too, will have gifts to unwrap on Christmas morning. But for a child at or near the end of that very long line, the odds are, we hate to say, there might not be any gifts to unwrap.

We will do that math — $50 times 1,950 means that $97,500 is needed to provide a voucher for each of those children. Now consider, over the lifetime of the Empty Stocking Fund, which includes all of three decades and parts of two more, the most money ever raised during a single campaign was $85,899.80, and that happened last year.

Now a bit of Christmas cheer: Last year the Fund not only took care of all the children who were registered, a number that was depressed because Hurricane Matthew had just roared through, but left us with a carryover of $12,196.30 that can be used to help children this year. So a little more math reveals we need to raise $85,333.70 this year to check all 1,950 children off of Santa’s list.

That is less money than we raised last year, so why the worry?

Last year we expected it would be a difficult year for the campaign because of Hurricane Matthew. Robeson County residents were otherwise occupied, and a lot of them had financial holes to dig out of, so making a contribution to the Empty Stocking Fund was down their list of priorities.

What we didn’t expect was the influx of donations from beyond Robeson County.

Hurricane Matthew turned eyes in our direction through social media, especially Facebook, and many people not from here who were unaware previously of the Empty Stocking Fund became aware of it, and made contributions, trying to bring some Christmas cheer to a community in despair.

For that, we are grateful.

But we doubt we can count on the same influx of out-of-county dollars, meaning to reach our goal, the money most likely will have to be found locally.

We believe this year will be the one when Matthew’s impact on the Empty Stocking Fund will be felt — and is likely evident in the high number of children who are registered for help.

So in order to raise a comparable amount of money as last year, we either need those of you who we have come to depend on to dig a little bit deeper when making a contribution or — and this is the best option — for people who have not given in the past to consider making a donation.

If you haven’t, and are unfamiliar with the Fund, let us provide comfort so that you will know your dollars are used as intended.

The Department of Social Services does the hard work of screening applicants, making sure the need is real by checking such things as family income. Also, not a single penny goes to an administrative cost; every cent goes to the vouchers, which can be redeemed at Roses stores in Lumberton and Fairmont.

So if you have not given in the past, we hope you will consider doing do this year. Come by our office at 2175 Roberts Ave. We guarantee that contributing to the Fund will make better Christmas for at least two people, the child who benefits — and you.