‘It’s worth all that hard work': East Texas organization collecting toys for hundreds of children in need

Empty Stocking Fund needs help collecting toys for 300+ children in need

HARRISON COUNTY, Texas (KSLA) — Just off East Grand Avenue in Marshall, one storefront sits seemingly vacant — at least from the outside.

But tucked away in the corner of the East Texas shop’s front window is a sign that, in capital letters, reads: “EMPTY STOCKING FUND.”

“I say I make sacrifices to be here, but that’s my choice,” said Lea McGee, who is busy setting up her temporary shop. “It changes me every year.”

McGee is the director of the Henry F. Selcer Memorial Empty Stocking Fund and has been for more than 25 years. The organization makes Christmas a reality for countless children in need throughout Harrison County.

“They just want a toy because they don’t have it,” she said. “I just feel honored and blessed and grateful that I’ve been put in this spot. I couldn’t do it alone.”

Every year around this time, McGee and a handful of volunteers meticulously collect names and toys to distribute around Christmas. Her organization helps more than 300 each year, she said.

“I set my toys up like a store. So if we have anything left over from the previous year, then we box those things up.”

Although McGee’s selfless and moving passion for making Christmas bright for many is palpable, it takes a toll — especially on her family life.

“It’s worth all that hard work. I love children and I love Christmas; just put the two together and that brings me joy.”

Right now, McGee said they are in need of volunteers as well as donations — both monetary gifts and toy deliveries.


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