Empty Stocking Fund gives food and presents to thousands in need

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Chilhowee Park was packed on Saturday as 3600 families lined up to receive food baskets from the Empty Stocking Fund, which were filled with everything from turkey and stuffing to fresh fruit and vegetables.

"It means that my kids will be able to have a Christmas and food on the table because my husband's been out of work from strokes and stuff and I've been taking care of him. So if it wasn't for this, we wouldn't have anything at Christmas time," said Lora Cameron, who was picking up food and presents.

This is the non-profit's 100th anniversary, which is organized by the News Sentinel.

"You can tell on their faces - there's a sense of relief. A ot of the people that are here, they definitely have a need for some extra food on the table," said Angie Howell, with the News Sentinel.

That was true for many in line, who said times are tough and they don't have the cash for a big holiday meal.

"It's hard times for us money-wise because I work construction. And you know, it's been wet - and you're not getting much time in," said Walter Rogers, who was picking up food.

Families in need could also pick out toys for their children.

"These times and struggles the past couple of years - it's been kind of rough on I guess everybody. And not just certain people - I know it's rough on the lower-class and the middle-class, too. Thank God we have people to care for our kids," said C.J. Dickenson, who was picking out toys for his kids.

According to organizers, donations from the community make the Empty Stocking Fund possible - whether it's money donated to buy the food and presents, or time given by the volunteers.

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