31st Annual Tri-City Empty Stocking Fund underway in Cumberland

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

This is the 31st year for the Tri-City Empty Stocking Fund and an auction took place in Cumberland.

The fund began in 1980 with only 30 food baskets handed out to families. Now 600 baskets weighing one hundred pounds each are given to those who are less fortunate. The man who started it all says he just wants to help people for Christmas.

“I carry the gifts in and I give them to the kids and boy they start ripping them open!” said Jim “Muggins” Bennett.

Bennett said that each child receives two toys in addition to a basket of food.

“Then comes the food basket, somebody comes in and sets it down and you would be surprised with how many kids drop their toys and run for the food because they are hungry… forget the toys, let's eat!” said Bennett.

He said it brings him joy to see the children

Bennett said he cannot thank the volunteers enough for all of the help the provide. He said it would not be possible without them. This year’s food total cost is $39,000, up from $32,000 last year. Bennett said it brings joy to him to have continued the tradition for over three decades.

Gifts are donated and auctioned off to pay for the food. The baskets will be distributed by volunteers before Christmas.

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