The Empty Stocking Fund enters its 93rd year of serving families and children in our area with the talent program and radiothon fundraisers set for Wednesday, Dec. 11 .

But right now, there are ways you can help make a better Christmas possible for those in need in our region by being a tree trimmer. The program works to make sure family's and children in need in our region get a warm Christmas with food, gifts and essentials. The program's key to success has been generous donations from the community and a host of volunteers eager to make it all happen.

Volunteer director Kelly Wong said current needs include hats and mittens for all ages and toys for younger children age 1 -8 years old.

Once all items are in, the group of volunteers will come together to sort and package all the items. Wong said she'll update their Facebook page with information about what needs may exist there.

While fundraising is down slightly for this time of year, Wong shared a bright spot in a recent encounter at a checkout. She had a shopping cart full of hats and mittens and someone at the checkout donated money to the non-profit right then and there to help pay for it.

Wong said those looking to give monetary donations can do so at Central MN Credit Union. The list of those assisted by this non-profit includes about 500 kids in 200 families in our region.

Wong said because of how late Thanksgiving and the talent program are this year, they will have a very quick turn around. Volunteer help will be very important. New this year is a plan to give a family game to each family.

"We really want to create that family time," Wong said.

Those looking to listen in to the 93rd annual Empty Stocking Fund Talent Program or Radiothon should attend the live event Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, at the WDC Middle/High School commons or listen live on 920 KWAD radio station from 7 - 10 p.m. Funds from this event helps the non-profit assist more families in need.

How can you help?

People like you donate new toys, money or clothes for children age 2 - 13. You can drop off those donations at Central Minnesota Credit Union, 1776 Clothing Company, West Central Telephone (Sebeka and Menahga), Pioneer Journal, MidCentral Federal Savings Bank, Wadena State Bank (Wadena, Bluffton and Deer Creek) or the Wadena Chamber Office (now located at The Depot.)

Empty Stocking Fund receives nominations for families from WDC, Sebeka, Menahga, Bertha Hewitt, Verndale Schools, local churches and Wadena County Human Services. They do not accept direct family requests.

To volunteer or hear about the latest needs, call Kelly Wong at 320-429-5088 or check out the Facebook page, Wadena Empty Stocking Fund.