Empty Stocking Gala board

The 33rd Annual Empty Stocking Gala Keeps On Giving

Article By Abby Parks

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The Empty Stocking Gala is the Calhoun County event to take part in.  After all, it’s not ultimately designed to give the folks that attend it an evening of great food, spirits, and entertainment–although all three of those boxes certainly get checked.  It’s actually an evening to raise funds to provide Christmas gifts for the children residing in Calhoun and Cleburne Counties who are currently in foster care under DHR custody.  While this premier event of the season was canceled for 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the board of directors for the Empty Stocking Gala still went about fundraising with local businesses, sponsors, and former supporters of the charity.  They were able to provide every single foster child a Christmas gift for both years.  Now the excitement is high as the 33rd Annual Empty Stocking Gala will take place this year as a live event on Friday, November 4th from 7pm-11:30pm at the Anniston City Meeting Center in downtown Anniston, Alabama.

All About the Children

The Empty Stocking Gala would likely not have endured as long as it has–since 1989 to be exact–if not for the cause.  This charity is designed to make sure that every foster child living in Calhoun County or Cleburne County receives Christmas gifts.  The very first event, organized by Sue Taylor and Colleen Roberts, actually raised $11,000 to go to this amazing cause.  Now, the yearly average sum raised is a staggering $40,000, which not only covers the cost of filling the wish lists of foster kids ages 1-18 (up to $100-$150 per child), but the left-over funds are distributed to other local charities.  Those have included the YMCA Boys Club, the Anniston Soup Bowl, Little Tree, and local nursing homes, among others.

The board for the Empty Stocking Gala and other volunteers get to play the role of Santa’s Elves once the funds have been raised.  Armed with the childrens’ wish lists, (which are collected by DHR workers who collaborate with the children and their foster parents), the Empty Stocking volunteers make a trip to Walmart and spend 4-5 hours of blocked off time gathering the gifts on the list. In general, they’ll try to fill a bigger item on the child’s wish list–some popular items include ipods, games for playstations, etc.  If the $100-$150 has not all been spent, they’ll include smaller items like books.  Whatever they receive, this charity ensures that these precious children all get to experience the joys that any child should on Christmas morning.

With leftover funds, volunteers also make a point of providing gifts to indigent patients in local nursing homes such as socks, robes, slippers, t-shirts, or other essentials.

The Gala

The 33rd anniversary of the Empty Stocking Gala will be special, as former supporters are eager to enjoy all the fun it has to offer.  Back by popular demand will be live entertainment from one of the top party bands out of Atlanta–Party Nation.  This high-energy 8 piece band performs the best of classic and modern pop/rock that will tempt folks out onto the dance floor in droves.  

This year’s theme is “Winter Wonderland” with colors white, silver, and red.  Attendees are encouraged to dress in formal or semi-formal attire.  Event tickets are available for singles, couples, and groups:  1 ticket/$100; Couple ticket/$200; and varied prices to purchase signage, reserved tables, and parties up to 16 people.  

This year’s food and beverage will be catered by Anniston’s Classic on Noble Restaurant.  The menu will featureTexas Caviar with Chips and Fried Corn Nuggets with Honey Mustard for appetizers in the lobby, and a dinner buffet:

  • Mixed Green & Strawberry Salad with Toasted Almonds, Mandarin Oranges, and Vinaigrette Dressing
  • Classic Crispy Chicken over Rice
  • Bacon Wrapped Pork with Pecan Praline Sauce
  • Root Vegetables
  • Rolls
  • Dessert Bar w/Chocolate Cake, Pecan Cobbler, and Assorted Cookies
  • Tea and Water

There will also be 4 different bars with unlimited beverages included in the ticket price.

Gary Wigington, a board member and our contact for the event information, expressed thanks to all the people who have participated in the past and present by attending the event, providing sponsorships, and volunteering their time to this worthy cause.  If you’d like more information on the gala, contact Kenny Steppe at (256) 282-2454.  To make a donation, write Donations@emptystocking.net.  The event address is:  Anniston City Meeting Center, 1615 Noble Street, Anniston, Alabama.

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