VEAC seeks donations for stockings and stuffers for needy children

Visalia Emergency Aid Council’s Stocking Lady may not have enough donations to deliver Christmas to everyone on the organization’s list

@TheSunGazette

VISALIA – For the first time in 18 years, the Visalia Emergency Aid Council may not have enough stocking stuffers to help all of the families on their Christmas list. The VEAC needs 1,000 stockings to make sure that each of the children, from newborns to 12-year-olds, will receive a stocking. If they do not receive enough donations they have to limit the gifts to one stocking per family.

But there is still time to help.

VEAC’s Stocking Lady, Kathleen Dowling, is fast at work collecting stockings, stocking stuffers, filled stockings and cash donations to be used to purchase those items which will be given out at their annual Christmas Distribution on Friday, Dec. 22.

The families must sign up in advance and are screened for the Christmas Program each year. They meet strict guidelines and all of the family members must be present in order to participate in the distribution of the food, toys, stockings and other goods. These families are some of the neediest in Visalia and for some of the children the only toy and stocking they will receive this year will come from the Visalia Emergency Aide Council.

“The look on the children’s faces makes it all worth while, they just light up as soon as they receive their stocking,” said Dowling who has been organizing the stockings since 1999. “Many of the children have never seen a stocking or been given one.”

Locals do not have to donate large amounts of money to help purchase stockings and their fillings. Toys, candy, games, books, socks, gloves, crayons, coloring books, pencils, pens, notebooks, jewelry, cologne, brushes, stuffed animals, and baby items are just some ideas for fillings for the stockings.

“It is the thought that counts,” Dowling said. “It lets these children know that someone who doesn’t know them, and may never meet them, cared enough about them to spend their time and money on stockings and stocking stuffers to brighten their holiday.”

Stockings and stocking stuffers can be dropped off at the following locations by Thursday Dec. 21, or you can call the Stocking Lady Hot Line at 559-731-7823 to arrange for a pick up, The Crystal Barn at Mary’s Vineyard, (and they will give you five dollars off in their store for five donated items), Maverick’s Coffee Co. at 238 W. Caldwell,  Horine Chiropractic, 1813 W. Caldwell, and the Visalia Emergency Aid Thrift Store at 620 W. Houston Ave. All donations are greatly appreciated. All offices, families and other groups that would like to help can call The Stocking Lady Hot Line at 559-731-7823.

Dowling said the project is special for her because she gets to share customs her grandparents brought with them when they emigrated from Europe. They, in turn, shared their holiday customs with generations of new immigrants who continue to come here today.

She plans to continue to collect stockings for many years to come and is grateful for all the help she has received throughout the years, especially from the members of  the Visalia Democratic Club, The Unitarians and The Quakers, who have been helping her faithfully since 1999.

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