Empty Stocking Fund

It's time to help the area's less fortunate by participating in

The Empty Stocking Fund is an annual holiday assistance effort to help needy families in the newspaper's readership area.

This year's contributions will be divided among eight local nonprofit agencies -- Fort Mill Care Center, Clover Area Assistance Center, Chester County Department of Social Services, The Turning Point of Chester, Project HOPE, PATH (People Attempting to Help), the Salvation Army and Tender Hearts Community Outreach.

Contributions to the Empty Stocking Fund can be mailed to P.O. Box 10921, Rock Hill, SC 29731 or dropped off by The Herald, 132 W. Main St., Rock Hill. Contributors' names will be published in The Herald.

Agency: The Turning Point of Chester Inc.

Hours of operation: The food pantry is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Dove's Nest, a thrift store, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday

Services offered: Provides an emergency pantry, the Dove's Nest thrift store and a 90-day drug and alcohol program for men, called the Christian Home for Men. The thrift shop sells clothing and household items and offers free clothing to the needy and individuals and families who have lost their belongings due to fire.

By the numbers: In 2006, the agency assisted 1,977 families with food, 60 families with clothing and 16 families with household furniture and items.

The Christian Home for Men enrolled 28 individuals. Last year's proceeds from the Empty Stocking Fund assisted 36 families, including with gifts, clothing, food and money for natural gas bills, and provided 200 gifts for seniors.

So far this year, the agency has assisted 2,716 families with food, 89 families with clothing and 29 individuals with furniture and household items. Thus far, the Christian Home for Men has enrolled 27. The agency also assisted individuals with 170 community service hours.

What they are seeing now: John Williams, director of The Turning Point, said the agency is seeing families who need help with utilities and natural gas bills, which the agency does not provide funding for on a regular basis.

The agency also has been seeing individuals and families in need of food.

Example of a recent individual/family served: A woman with six children recently came in asking for food to feed her family.

Williams said the food stamps she receives are not enough for a month. Williams also said a man, who recently came to The Christian Home for Men for treatment, was in desperate need of shoes. Williams said the man was provided with shoes from the thrift store.

Sources of funding: Fundraisers, donations and profits generated from the thrift store.

Annual budget: Last year, $75,000. This year, $83,000.

Brief history: Turning Point, which began in 1986 and became a nonprofit agency in 1991, was founded by Geraldine Clawson, a pastor at Together as One Church in Chester and president of the organization.

Contact information: John W. Williams, director of The Turning Point of Chester Inc., (803) 581-0219.