Small Talk: Empty Stocking Gala celebrates 25 years of giving
Oct 05, 2013 | 2157 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s been 25 years since Sue and Tommy Taylor and Colleen and Jimmy Roberts, along with their very good friends Glen and Anna Berry, Larry and Betty Deason, Joe and Margaret Griffin, Max and Jane Payne, Gary and Johnnie Fay Ray, Wayne and Jan Smith, and Horace and Sarah Thrower came together to form the Empty Stocking board to raise money for foster children in the Department of Human Resources system (Sue and Colleen had learned that the DHR workers themselves often used their own money to buy Christmas gifts for the children in their custody).

Since that time, a host of Empty Stocking board members have kept this vision alive and thriving, thanks to their hard work and our community’s support of the annual Empty Stocking Gala. This year’s event is slated for Friday, Nov. 1, at the Anniston City Meeting Center.

Over the past 24 years, more than 7,500 foster children in Calhoun and Cleburne counties have awakened on Christmas morning to new bicycles, video games, Barbie dolls, baby dolls, iPods, swing sets and hundreds of other gifts, thanks to the support of those who buy tickets to the annual gala or make donations.

Children aren’t the only ones helped by the Empty Stocking organization — indigent patients at area nursing homes receive needed items, too.

The Empty Stocking Gala — always loads of fun, and the unofficial local kickoff for the holiday season — will feature a catered dinner (with shrimp, steak, a dessert bar … the list goes on) from David Mashburn’s Classic on Noble, plus several open bars and live (and lively) musical entertainment by the band Party Nation. Again this year, the Courtyard by Marriott will offer a discounted rate for gala patrons, as well as a shuttle service to and from the gala (call Julie Hansek at Courtyard at 256-831-7995 for details).

Current board members are Bruce Adams, Lisa and Mike Askew, Brenda and Joe Bynum, Julie and Jeff Hansek, Toni and Art Hathorn, Karen and Mark Lee, Ashley and Steven Lines, Karlynn and David McCormack, Sherlyn and Corey McWhorter, Brenda and Melvin Morgan, Kari and Will Payne, Nick and Manju Purohit, Kenny Steppe, Edith and Paul Trammell, Chuck Ward, Tammy and Gary Wiggington, and Becky and Terry Wilson.

New to the board this year is Kim Coker, who is looking forward to helping host such a great party, but says she really can’t wait until “shopping day” when board members (along with DHR workers) get to be Santa’s helpers for a little while. Each foster child gets to make a Christmas wish list and each list is filled with care by “elf wannabes” as they race up and down the aisles.

Gala doors will open at 7 p.m., and the band will play from 8 p.m. until midnight.

Tickets — available from any board member — are $125 per couple, and are all inclusive. For more information, visit the Empty Stocking Gala’s Facebook page or contact a board member.

To share your news with Small Talk, contact Annette Maddox at


Make plans to attend the mother lode of local fall festivals — the first Neewollah on Noble, presented by the Spirit of Anniston on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 10 a.m. You’ll find it all — live music, contests, exhibits, carnival games, a kid zone, ghost tours and zombie walk, horse carriage rides, arts and crafts, a treat walk … whew! Want to learn more? Check out Spirit of Anniston’s Facebook page. Admission is free, and sports fans will be pleased to know that the SEC game of the week will be playing on a Jumbotron, and restaurants and bars will be offering food and drink specials during the event.
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