Empty Stocking Fund: Grandmother gets help to provide for grandchildren

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Sharon Dooley | Special to Daily News

Crestview resident Sheila Knight became the parent to her two grandchildren when their mother disappeared.

“Their mother has been missing for seven months, and they still haven’t found her,” Knight said.

With the addition of a 10-year-old and a 9-year-old, Knight needed help with Christmas. She registered her grandchildren for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, which will give Knight an opportunity to select gifts that her grandchildren want.

“We are all going through a really tough time,” Knight said, noting that there are no leads to the whereabouts of her daughter. “It’s really hard on the kids.

“We appreciate the help, I know that,” she added. “I’m so blessed that I have a lot of people that are helping. Nobody knows how hard it is.” 

Robert, who asked that his last name be withheld, had worked as a paralegal until his profession had to be put on hold.

A series of surgeries during the past year sidelined him, and he found himself in a financial struggle.

“I’ve been unable to pay my bills or get my prescriptions,” the Niceville resident said. “I’ve gone without my insulin a few times.”

He receives state assistance, but qualifying for only $15 per month in food stamps has helped little.

He turned to the Salvation Army, which provided Robert with partial assistance of an electric bill.

The assistance was possible through funds raised during the 2016 Empty Stocking Fund drive.

 • • •

A lightning strike took out the air conditioning and heating unit in the home of a large Laurel Hill family. That simply adds to concerns of Angie Renfroe, a stay-at-home mother of eight.

“My husband’s disabled; my daughter’s disabled, and the bills keep going higher,” Renfroe said.

The Salvation Army assisted the family with an electric bill.

“I tried to handle it as long as I could,” she said. “I had to ask for help, and I hate to ask for help.

“They were kind,” Renfroe added about the staff at the Salvation Army of Okaloosa and Walton counties.

 • • •

Tonya Espino came to Fort Walton Beach from Puerto Rico. Although she has a job, she also needed assistance for Christmas.

Here children are registered angels with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

“I get food there, and they really helped me,” Espino said. The Salvation Army staff also directed her to a source for beds.

“Right now, I don’t have nothing,” Espino added.


The Empty Stocking Fund serves as a community outreach, designed to assist people who face financial difficulties in Okaloosa and Walton counties. The Salvation Army of Okaloosa and Walton counties serves as the administrator of the fund, with all donations remaining in the two counties and specifically applied to vetted clients who need assistance with utility and rent bills, and with medication expenses.

Empty Stocking Fund donations can be taken to the Northwest Florida Daily News on the corner of Eglin Parkway and Hollywood Boulevard or can be mailed to NWF Daily News, P.O. Box 2949, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32549. Checks should be payable to Empty Stocking Fund/NWF Daily News.


Donations may also be made by visiting www.salvationarmyflorida.org/fortwalton/empty-stocking-fund.


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