Muggins Bennett

Tri-Cities Empty Stocking Fund

The Tri-City Empty Stocking Fund is gearing up for the holiday season for the first time since the passing of the program’s founder, Jim “Muggins” Bennett.

This year, Jeff and Linda Sim along with Bennett’s’ wife Naomi Bennett are putting in the effort to keep the project going.

“Jeff and I are the directors of Heritage Ministries Incorporated,” Sim said. “Naomi and Muggins have been dear friends, we’ve helped (with the Empty Stocking Fund) for years. Muggins had asked Jeff if he would carry on (the Empty Stocking Fund) if anything ever happened to him.”

Linda Sim explained the deadline to sign up to receive a food basket is rapidly approaching.

“This is the week,” Sim said. “Sign up is through Friday in Cumberland, and Thursday in Lynch.”

You may sign up for a food basket from 9 a.m. until noon and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Loaves & Fishes, located 1417 E. Main St., Cumberland or at Lynch City Hall. Although Lynch City Hall is closed on Fridays, Lynch residents can still sign up at the Cumberland location on Friday.

“We’re coordinating and trying to get the food to the people who need it,” Sim said. “On Monday and Tuesday, we’re having an auction. Any funds we get from that auction will be put toward the purchase of the food.”

The hours for the action will be from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, and just as in years past the event will be broadcast by the college.

Sim said the Empty Stocking Fund is running in the usual way, with one exception.

“We’re missing Muggins,” Sim said. “We miss him, and so do many others.”

According to a press release, the Tri-City Stocking Fund is continuing in honor of Muggins Bennett. For 36 years, Muggins Bennett, his wife Naomi Bennett and many folks from the Tri-Cities area have been putting together over 600 food baskets that weigh over 100 pounds each. Each child ages birth up to 18 receives two gifts. Through the “Home Alone” program, a food basket is delivered along with one gift to elderly people who have no one to spend the holidays with.

Sim said the food baskets typically contain a canned ham, flour, sugar, canned vegetables, candy, fruit and other items.

For more information or to make a donation, call Jeff or Linda Sim at 606-848-0550 or Naomi Bennett at 606-589-5310. Money donations are tax deductible. Make checks payable to Heritage Ministries Tri-City Empty Stocking Fund and mail to Heritage Ministries, P.O. Box 821, Lynch, KY 40855.