By Sally Voth
The stockings of needy Shenandoah County kids will be a little bit fuller thanks to the Ruritans.
The county's nine Ruritan clubs have set a $28,000 goal for this year's Empty Stocking Fund, according to Janet Ballowe, who is a member of the Powhatan club. Her husband, Jim, is treasurer, and she helps oversee the Christmas gift shopping.
About one-third of the goal has been raised, she said.
The plan this year was to buy gifts for 550 children, but that number has grown to 562, and some more had to be turned away, Ballowe said.
"They're infants to 12-years-old," she said. "Parents make out a list. We try to do partially clothes and partially toys, unless they request one or the other. For infants to 3-years-old, we spend $40. From age 4-12 we have $60."
The Ruritan clubs collect money for the fund all year long, but most of the giving is in November and December, according to Ballowe.
"I think all the shopping's just about done," she said.
Parents will pick up their children's presents at the Woodstock Armory on Dec. 3, Ballowe said.
She said she's seen the number of children in need of presents grow considerably in the past few years.
"It's just a worthy project," Ballowe said. "The Ruritan Clubs themselves are a service organization. Everything that we do for fund raisers, the money goes right back into our own communities. It's just a way to help the communities."
Donations can be sent to Ruritan Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 411, Strasburg, Va. 22657.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org