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A way to enjoy Christmas, help others

There is one big change with the Empty Stocking Fund Talent Show this year: venue.

The 84th Empty Stocking Fund event will be moved to Memorial Auditorium in Wadena after the usual venue, the commons area of the high school, was taken out by the June 17 tornado.

Diane Peters, the talent chairman who has worked on the show for about 30 years now, encouraged the public to come to Memorial Auditorium for the 7-10 p.m. show on Wednesday, Dec. 8. She said seeing the show in person is an experience everyone should have.

For those who can't make it, KWAD radio 920 AM will broadcast the entire telethon.

The event is the primary fundraiser for the Empty Stocking Fund, which for 84 years has raised money locally and spent it all on food boxes and children's gifts for families in need at Christmas. So far this year, 215 families with 521 children in Wadena, Todd and Otter Tail Counties are signed up for assistance. Families are referred through churches, schools and social services to qualify for help.

The need this year is among the highest ever, possibly due in part to the EF4 tornado. On Wednesday night, pledges will be taken between 7-10 p.m. by calling (218) 632-GIVE.

Donations can also be taken anytime by sending them to Empty Stocking Fund, c/o Wadena Pioneer Journal, P.O. Box 31, Wadena, MN 56482. Donations of any amount are accepted and appreciated.

This year's show is another strong lineup of talent, as assembled by Peters. New and longtime acts include: Val Schmitz, Renita McGrane and Samantha Graf, Robert Segovia, Kloe Pettit-Sperling, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Pat Quance, the High School Band Quartet, Meghan Sly, Hanna Larson, Northern Lights Chorale, Deana Skov and Kim Harrington, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Some Men Chorale Singers of Immanuel Lutheran Church, the WDC high school concerts choir, Kyle Davis, Suzanne Moe, the Wadena Area Community Band, Allen Moe, St. John Lutheran Church Choir, Dale Lovelace, Karen Leverington, Allen Uselman, Molly Barrett, Haley Anderson, Deb Nelson and the WDC After School 5-6 grade choir, Christie Meier, and Dick Johnson and Denise Rousslang.

Three hours of continuous music -- mostly Christmas-themed music -- will be emceed by KWAD radio both in the auditorium and on the radio waves.

Empty Stocking Fund Talent Program live

• Wednesday, Dec. 8

• 7-10 p.m.

• Wadena Memorial Auditorium

• Call 632-GIVE to donate