Make plans now to attend the 95th annual Empty Stocking talent program at the WDC Middle/High School from 7-10 p.m., Dec. 8, or if you cannot attend, listen to the program live on 920 AM/101.7 FM KWAD or online at Either way, this is holiday music at its best and it's free.

This is the must hear musical program of the season thanks to the generous talent shared from the surrounding community. The event is full of entertainment but also an opportunity to raise money for the Empty Stocking Program in Wadena. Call in during the three hour talent program and make pledges on 218-632-GIVE during the live broadcast. Donations can also be dropped off at any of the 10 Tree Trimmer locations or monetary donations can be mailed to Empty Stocking Fund; P.O. Box 543; Wadena, MN 56482. Please help to bring the “Magic of Christmas” to a child this year.

Who's in the show?

While COVID kept the event remote last year, this year is all hands on deck, performing live from the Middle/High School commons area. Most everyone is back at it again this year. That includes the regular Immanuel Lutheran Church and St. Ann's Catholic Church choirs.

Deb Haraldson will be reigning in choir members from across the map to bring together the finale of the event. You'll want to stay awake for this finish.

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Talent director Diane Peters is very excited to announce the addition of the Staples Area Men’s Choir, under the direction of Steve Hoemberg. They will be performing a song in the last hour of the program. Other new additions to the program are soloist, Shannon Hagen; pianists Libby Hartman, Valerie Haataja and a duet by Kelanie and Lydia Oldakowski, all piano students of Julia Whynott. Also new, will be a duet by Kathy Harrison and Marilyn Uselman accompanied by Kim Uselman. The invocation will be given by Pastor Ricardo Alcoser from Joyful Spirit Church.

The Community Band will be performing under the direction of Steven Anderson, as well as the WDC jazz band and both a trumpet and a flute ensemble under the direction of Lisa Weniger, will represent the WDC High School.

Some others who have previously performed are Eric Roggenkamp, who will open this year’s program with a tribute to America. Elisa Mae and Laurie Runge, Steven Anderson, Suzanne Moe, Heidi Nelson, Simon Kreklau, Grace Gallant, Robert Segovia, Corey Tackmann, Deb Hutson, Mike Ortmann, Allen Uselman and a flute duet by Lisa Winter and Johanna Brunsberg and Miss Wadena’s First Princess, Kaylin Lupkes. A few college students are returning to perform — Alex Moe, Matthew Greenwaldt and Miss Wadena, Emma Bushinger.

If you can't make the event, make a point to donate to the Empty Stocking program. The group is still accepting donations and will be packing items for distribution in the coming days. They have a current need of toys for boys and girls age 0-7. Distribution takes place December 16.

In 2020, the Empty Stocking Fund helped 246 families receive a Christmas meal and 626 children received Christmas gifts. This fund reaches families in Menahga, Sebeka, Verndale, Bertha-Hewitt and the Wadena area.