The LaFayette Area Empty Stocking Fund Distributes Food at Walker Co. Civic Center

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WALKER COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) — The LaFayette Area’s “Empty Stocking Fund” had its food distribution event today at the Walker County Civic Center.

Cars were already lined up as Volunteers arrived before 8 am to prepare the food bags for delivery.

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Teams of volunteers from various agencies and businesses prepared about 550 bags of food this morning —to be distributed to some 1,500 people.

“We’re going to be giving out these bags, and they’re just filled with all kinds of foods that you’d use over the holidays, but this will give you more than just one meal because we have staples, like corn meal, we have oil, we have things that’s going to go in your pantry like that, so you’re going to have more than just a meal at Christmas, you’re going to have stuff that’ll last through the holidays,” said Rachel Oesch Willeford, Lafayette Area Empty Stocking Fund Organizer.

Rachel Oesch Willeford says that lots of people contributed to the effort.

“Today is really the culmination of the Empty Stocking Fund. All year long there are volunteers that work on The Empty Stocking Fund, and then we started on Wednesday, we unloaded the Food City truck, then on Thursday, we put all the food in the bags, and then today we’re actually handing it out to folks,” said Mrs. Willeford.

Food City participated this year. It donated the reusable bags, and provided the food at cost.

“We’ve just been very, very blessed with how the public has responded to our stores, and they are, they are coming in and helping us support our business and we’re just always delighted to be able to give back to the community, and the food business, since that’s what we’re in, it’s just a perfect fit to help in these holiday times and times of need to help with donations,” said Daryl Massey, Food City District Manager.

Some volunteers come back year after year.

“Well, I like helping people out it’s Christmas, you know, as much as I can,” said Mark Battles.

Applications can be picked up in Walker County at the Department of Family and Children Services and the LaFayette Housing Authority. Eligibility is based on income.

The deadline for this year though, was December 2nd.

The Empty Stocking Fund is supported by the United Way, businesses, churches and individual volunteers.

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Ashley is a lifetime Chattanooga area resident, and a 1987 graduate from UTC, with a BA in communications. While there, he was commissioned through the ROTC program, served simultaneously in the 1/181st field artillery Tn. Army National Guard, finished Airborne school, was a member of the Scabbard and Blade military honor society and ROTC Rangers, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, played snare drum with the UTC Marching band, and played in a southern rock band called Southern Atmosphere, while working a full time job as a trainer at the Sports Barn. He also won the Southeastern United States teenage bodybuilding competition during this time. Ashley has been with News 12 Now for 21 years. Prior to working here he was a videographer, director, producer and editor at Falcon Cable TV in Dalton, Ga. for 6 years where he produced thousands of commercials and dozens of hour long features. He also worked as a freelancer and employee at another network affiliate in Chattanooga. He has operated a part time video production business from home for 25 years. He says his passion is telling stories that feature people who give of themselves to help others, and stories that inspire people to make positive changes in themselves and their communities. Ashley is ecstatically married to Debbie Henderson, and has two step sons, a daughter in law, a sister, and lots of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews. His parents are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. Ashley and Debbie are active members of Brainerd Baptist Church. His interests include weight training and cycling with his wife, photography, poetry, playing drums, and checking off items from his extensive honey-do list. If you would like to reach Ashley, email him at ahenderson@wdef.com.