The Tri-City Empty Stocking Fund is entering its 35th year with the annual auction on the Cumberland campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College coming up on Wednesday and Thursday.
Tri-City Empty Stocking Fund Chairman Jim “Muggins” Bennett said the auction will run from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. both nights.
For those that can’t attend in person, the auction will also be televised on the Cumberland community access channel (channel 20). The broadcast will include phone numbers folks can call to bid on an item or to donate to the fund.
“If they win, we will deliver the merchandise to them if they can’t come and pick it up,” said Bennett.
According to Bennett, the items to be auctioned off have been donated by businesses from all over the region.
A previous report states The Empty Stocking Fund provides each child, ages birth to 18 years, with two gifts each. Through their “Home Alone” program, each person who lives alone receives one gift each.
Bennett mentioned the Empty Stocking Fund got its start after he was laid off from the mines in 1980.
“I told my friends we need to do something to help the out the less fortunate” Bennett said. “The first year we had 30 or 40 baskets.”
Bennett said they went back to work the next year, but he continued the program.
“Each year, the baskets got bigger and bigger,” Bennett said. “We deliver around 600 food baskets, they weigh between 100 and 110 pounds each, and each child gets two wrapped gifts…we deliver each and every one of them and make sure it gets in the house.”
Bennett mentioned people fill out applications to receive the baskets.
“People can fill out applications at Club 180,” Bennett said.
Club 180, located on Main Street in Cumberland, accepts applications from 9 a.m. until noon and from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. from Dec. 7 through Dec. 11.
Bennett mentioned help is coming from Louisville and Tennessee to put the baskets together, but they are in need of cash donations to purchase food for the baskets.
“We need some funds,” Bennett said. “Because most of the mines that donated every year are not doing it this year. Not because they don’t want to, they just don’t have the funds because they’re closed.”
Bennett said donations for the auction can be brought to the auction or checks can be mailed to Tri-City Empty Stocking Fund, Jim “Muggins” Bennett, P.O. Box 534, Cumberland, KY 40823.
Other ways to donate include a roadblock scheduled on Saturday near the Cumberland Pizza Hut from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Sand Hill Baptist Church is planning a bake sale to take place at the Cumberland Food City parking lot on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. Proceeds from both events will go to the Tri-City Empty Stocking Fund.
For more information call 606-589-5310.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-505-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde