Former editor recalls Empty Stocking’s start

My wife, who works in an office for one of the state agencies, noticed your editorial last week on the Empty Stocking Fund completing another season of helping Bladen County’s children. In it, you said the fund goes back longer than anyone remembers. Some of us do.

It was started in 1980 — 35 years ago — when I was the editor of the Journal. My staff and I wanted to do something for the community, and we came up with the fund. Nbody had ever heard of anything quite like it in that area and I spent a lot of time setting it up.

Wallace Leinwand enthusiastically helped us get it going, as did Jones’ Department Store (we had no Walmart back then) and the Department of Social Services. If I remember right, we raised about $3,000 that first year, which seemed like a lot of money from a small, poor county.

I am so pleased to see that you have kept the tradition going. Of all the things I did in a 30-year journalism career, the Empty Stocking Fund is one that I consider among the best. I hope you and your staff have a Merry Christmas and a blessed new year.

Dennis Patterson

Former Bladen Journal editor