Originally created 11/24/03

Event heralds Empty Stocking Fund's season



The thousand attendees at First Baptist Church went on a Sleigh Ride of sorts on Sunday afternoon.

From hearing the Leroy Anderson Christmas tune to David Borowitz's Hanukkah medley The Festival of Lights Overture, they were treated to a diverse selection of holiday songs at the 12th annual Empty Stocking Fund Christmas Concert.

Now in its 73rd year, The Augusta Chronicle's fund-raiser helps local families in need during the holiday season.

Sunday's concert, the kickoff to the Empty Stocking Fund, raised more than $4,800.

The Augusta Concert Band, led by conductor Ben Easter, provided the afternoon's entertainment. Longtime Augustan Lee Menefee was the featured vocalist on two songs, White Christmas and O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion.

Jean Huffine, who attended the event with her family, said she cannot remember the last time she missed an Empty Stocking Fund Christmas concert.

"It's a marvelous thing," she said. "It's always the start of our Christmas season."

Halfway through the program, Augusta Chronicle President Julian Miller, whom announcer Terry Sims referred to as "Santa Claus," explained the history of the Empty Stocking Fund, emphasizing that it is a community program.

"So I'm not Santa Claus; you are," Mr. Miller said. "We're honored that this idea has grown into an effort that collected $104,000 last year."

WANT TO CONTRIBUTE?

Contributions can be mailed to Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. They also can be dropped off at the newspaper's Broad Street office. Those who wish to contribute online may go to www.augustachronicle.com/emptystocking.

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.