Empty Stocking Fund provides help in Cabarrus and Rowan

KANNAPOLIS, NC (WBTV) - Each winter, families in our community struggle to heat their homes and provide Christmas gifts for their children. For more than 70 years, the Empty Stocking Fund has helped ease some of that struggle. Organized by Cooperative Christian Ministry and the Kannapolis YMCA, the Empty Stocking Fund provides local families in need with gifts for their children through the YMCA's Toy Closet, food for their tables and additional support and assistance through CCM's Utility Assistance Fund (formerly the Fuel Fund) and Adopt-A-Family programs.

More than 160 applications for assistance were received this year through school counselor referrals for CCM's Adopt-A-Family program. Families with demonstrated need are able to "make a list" for the holidays (from gifts for their children to groceries and more) and those who adopt the families "check it twice" and determine what they are able to give the families for Christmas.

Through the Utility Assistance Fund, CCM is able to help hundreds of families keep their utilities on and homes warm on cold winter nights. Last year, CCM assisted 189 households containing almost 700 individuals (including children) with utility assistance totaling almost $45,000 during the coldest months of the year. The need expected to be just as great this year.

"Thanksgiving without a turkey or Christmas without a gift is a harsh reality for some families, but a winter holiday without heat or electricity is especially cold," says CCM Executive Director Ed Hosack. "That doesn't have to happen in our community."

"We are called to make a difference and to give back," says Lorie Williams, CCM's volunteer coordinator. "The Empty Stocking Fund is one more important way in which CCM supporters make a huge difference in the lives of those in our community who are struggling. We can't help everyone, but we can help someone."

To adopt a family for Christmas, individuals, organizations and businesses should contact Williams at 704-490-4245 or lwilliams@cooperativeministry.com. If you are unable to adopt a family, but would still like to help, you can donate new, unwrapped toys to the Toy Closet at the Kannapolis YMCA or simply send a monetary gift to CCM with "Empty Stocking Fund" in the memo line. Gifts should be mailed to PO Box 1717, Concord, NC 28026-1717 or dropped off at the CCM Crisis Center, 246 Country Club Dr., Concord.