Presents, pizza and bowling brought 110 children to Forest Lanes in Corbin Tuesday for the Rotary Club’s 21st annual empty stocking fund.
The children, ranging in ages from infant to 17 were given books, a present, a new pair of shoes and a blanket. In addition, they were treated to pizza courtesy of Pizza and Company, and free bowling thanks to D.L. and Dennis Lynch.
"This is a joyous day," said State Rep. Charlie Siler, R-Whitley County, who attended the event, noting the smiles on the children’s faces is what Christmas is all about.
Kentucky Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo was scheduled to attend the event, but had to cancel when his wife went into labor.
However, Carroll Renfro, a member of Mongiardo’s staff, came on his behalf, thanking the Rotary Club, Dennis Lynch and the other members of the community who make the empty stocking fund possible.
Dennis Lynch said the Rotary Club has been working throughout the year to raise the $20,000 to $25,000 needed to make the event possible, taking donations from the community.
While the Rotary Club raises the funds and provides some of the volunteers who staff the event, other members of the community volunteered their time to help wrap presents and shoes and hand out the gifts.
Lucy Branch and Barry Rees were among those handing out presents. Branch, who works at Grace Community Health Center, said she was there because of her boss, Dr. David Worthy, a Rotary member.
"When I was growing up, I was one of these kids," Branch said as she handed out presents to the infants and toddlers. "I think it is great just to see the kids faces."
It wasn’t just the adults who were pitching in to help. Caroline Reedy and Jenna Johnson, who were on Christmas break from school, were putting boxes of candy into the children’s bags.
"It has been fun to help them have a good Christmas," Johnson said.
The girls said they will definitely be back to help next year.
Over at the snack bar Dicky Giles and a staff of volunteers from Pizza and Company were turning out pizzas. Giles said this is the 9th year Pizza and Company has been involved in the empty stocking fund starting in 2000 when Lin and Gay Collett owned Pizza and Company.
Giles said he expects to serve up more than 600 slices of pizza. The pizzas were made Tuesday morning at the restaurant and brought over the bowling alley where they were cooked in the pizza oven at the snack bar.
Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney, said events like this shows the Christmas spirit is alive and well in Corbin.
"Today was very moving," McBurney said. "It just shows you what kind of community we have."
Heather Farmer watched as her 5-year-old son, Caleb let another bowling ball fly down the alley. Though Caleb was thankful for the present and the shoes, it was the bowling that kept his attention.
"This is all he (Caleb) has talked about," Heather Farmer said. "He said, ‘I can’t wait for Christmas so I can go bowling.’"