HARLAN COUNTY, Ky (WYMT) - Around this time of year, a helping hand is always appreciated. In Harlan County, The Empty Stocking Fund is gearing up to help those in need.
"They've always found a way to provide for families in need during the Christmas and Thanksgiving holiday," said Janette Yaden, a friend of the Muggins' family.
Yaden is a resident in Benham, Kentucky and says this charity is one she always saw help others. This year she decided to get involved. "I've seen a lot of people that have benefited from it, and it is just a great thing."
The Empty Stocking Fund was started back in 1980 by James "Muggins" Bennett. The idea first came when coal miners were laid off in Harlan and families were in need during the holiday season.
This will be the 39th year for the charity which has grown from feeding and providing gifts for 50 families to now more than 500. Local organizations such as Heritage Ministries have always been involved but this year a new duo joined in, the 'Church Ladies'.
The 'Church Ladies' better known as The Anne-N-Bren Show on Facebook drove two hours from Rogersville, Tennessee to bring toys they have collected since the summer. They first met Janette Yaden and knew right away this was a cause they wanted to be apart of.
"It doesn't have to be in your home town. It doesn't have to be in your community. You don't even have to know the people, doesn't matter. Every kid deserves a Christmas. Every family deserves a Christmas," said Brenda Hudson. "We take that for granted way too often, way too often."
These ladies use their personalities to show the love of God through humor, making them relatable. "Every church especially Southern church has that one little church lady. I mean everyone does. And if you are that church lady we love you," said the pair.
And through love and compassion, they helped fill the 'Muggins Lounge' with toys for boys and girls of all ages. Hoping to help continue a tradition that shows the love James 'Muggins' Bennett always had for his community.
Donations are still being taken in Harlan and will be auctioned off in December with food baskets for families and gifts delivered to each family in need.