By Jason Chlapek
As long as Janet Wiggins can remember, the Empty Stocking program has been a Rotary Club of Livingston tradition.
“I’ve been in Rotary since 1992 and we’ve had it since then,” she said. “We go through the Empty Stocking program, which is headed up by Angela Figgs, and she gives us the names of needy families.”
While Wiggins has been with Rotary since 1992, she’s not certain when the club began its participation in the Empty Stocking program. Rotarians made their annual deliveries of gifts and food to 10 families last Thursday.
“I love seeing the faces of the children when the gifts are delivered,” Wiggins said. “It’s such a reward to be able to help someone who may be in need. It’s always been a reward for me.”
Beginning in October, Rotary Club of Livingston starts collecting funds for the Empty Stocking program. Two weeks prior to delivery day, Rotarians split into groups and buy gifts for the children in the family of which their group was assigned.
On delivery day, club members gather at Brookshire Bros. to pick up a box of food for their assigned family. In year’s past, 20 families were selected by Rotary Club of Livingston.
But with Covid-19, only 10 families were chosen. The club also has seen a decline in attendance and service project participation since the pandemic, which meant less volunteers to deliver to families.
Wiggins also is the director of the Polk County Chamber of Commerce, which has the 12 Days of Christmas program. With that program, Wiggins and her group go to the houses of 12 families and deliver gifts to them for 12 days.