Tenth annual Stocking Drive provides cheer to children in hospitals

Autumn Bippert

The South Plains College Reese Center Library has hosted a stocking drive for children in need for close to a decade.

The idea for the Stocking Drive came from students working in the Reese Library. One of the students had been involved in an organization called Project Homefront that collected toys for children in military families. When she had toys left over, another student suggested the extra toys be put in stockings and taken to local hospitals.

The Library is collecting new Christmas stockings and stocking stuffers to reach their goal of 245. They are asking for students, faculty and people in the community to donate.

Tracey Pineda, librarian at the Reese Center campus and the director of the Stocking Drive, said that this goal is up from last year.

“We delivered 222 stockings last year to four shelters and four hospitals,” Pineda explained. “We already know there are more children in some of the shelter locations this year. So we are planning on more at the other locations just in case.”

The stockings will be delivered to the same locations as the previous years in the Lubbock, Levelland and possibly Plainview hospitals, as well as to agencies that serve women with children and agencies that shelter homeless families. These locations include: My Father’s House; Hope House and Spirit House (both are a part of Family Promise Lubbock); Women’s Protective Services; and the Restoration Empowerment Center. The Empowerment Restoration Center in Lubbock was founded and directed by former SPC student Janet Railey.

“ We’ve been in touch with most of the shelters already, and they are all looking forward to our visit and receiving stockings again,” said Pineda. “We wait to see if we have enough to include Plainview.  Last year, we had enough to take 29 stockings to that hospital, and the person who received them, Sherri Wall, was thrilled with the generosity of SPC. Hospitals usually can’t give us an exact count until the day we arrive.  Children are admitted and some have to stay at the hospital during the holidays. Some get to go home before our scheduled visit, which is a good thing.”

Pineda also explained that they’ve learned from nurses that having extra stockings to leave with them helps during the holidays, because they will see children in the emergency room as well.  She said that the stockings are nice to have on hand to give to children who need something else to focus on other than feeling bad and being scared.

There are donation boxes at the Reese Center and Levelland campus libraries, at the Lubbock Center behind the service desk, and in all Reese Center buildings.  Christmas stockings, filled or unfilled, and stocking stuffers are accepted now until the holiday break. Monetary donations, which will help to buy things if there is a need, are also accepted in the libraries.

A wide variety of items can be donated, including: baby wipes, infant clothing, bottles, teething toys, stuffed animals, bath toys, toys for various elementary-age boys and girls, dolls (small enough to fit into stockings), puzzles, art supplies, paperback books, snacks, school supplies, caps and scarves, and hygiene products, among others. There is a full list of items needed on the Library’s Facebook page.

Pineda explained that the biggest challenge they’re facing this year is the calendar.

“Most years, we have two weeks after Thanksgiving to receive donations and put the stockings together,” Pineda explained. “This year, we come back from the holiday and have one week and then finals.  The bulk of donations come in after Thanksgiving, when people have gotten into the Christmas spirit and have been out shopping. And we have set our goal higher this year. To raise additional funds this year, we have been selling chocolate to have funds to spend at the dollar store in case we find ourselves short of items for particular ages.”

As donations are received, students sort the stocking stuffers by age appropriateness. Then the stocking stuffing can begin.

After students finish filling and packing up the stockings, they will be delivered to as many children as possible.

“The filling will take place during the week before finals, right after we return from Thanksgiving this year,” Pineda said. “Our first delivery will be made during the week of finals, though the exact date hasn’t been finalized.  There are usually several trips made during that week across different days.”

During the past nine years, with the help of the SPC community of students, faculty and staff, the Library has been able to donate hundreds of stockings to children.

“We’ve discussed the possibility, if we have enough funds left from donations and chocolate sales, after all stockings are delivered, of buying a brick for the Founders Plaza to commemorate the 10 years the Library has held the Stocking Drive and contribute to the College’s endowment that supports scholarships, which was Juanita Yanez’s, who is the Library technical assistant at Reese, idea,” Pineda said. “Recently, someone at Hope House mentioned to us that if we added up the number of people receiving stockings from SPC through the years we would realize the college has touched a lot of kids and families through this endeavor.  I’d like to see a memorial of that.”

Pineda said that her favorite thing about doing the Stocking Drive each year is seeing the willingness of people at SPC to give and to help. Also, she likes seeing and hearing how delighted children are to get a surprise of fun stuff and how appreciative parents are to receive something that makes their children happy. She explained that she also loves experiencing the gratitude the people who care for the children and families at these locations have toward SPC for supporting their efforts to make life better for others.

For additional details, or to contact Pineda or Yanez about drop-off locations, call (806) 716-4682.

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