Friday, December 26, 2014

Thank you for setting a record for Empty Stocking Fund

Thank you, readers, for coming through as never before at Christmas for thousands of needy children and elderly residents.

Contributions to The Charlotte Observer’s annual Empty Stocking Fund this year surged to a new record: $362,750. That’s an increase of about 20 percent, compared with last year.

Also, more of you donated, and in larger amounts, than last year.

For more than 90 years, the fund has helped the Salvation Army’s Christmas bureau provide gifts for those least fortunate. This year, families of nearly 12,000 children registered with the bureau after documenting their financial need. The bureau also assisted seniors registered in its Silver Bells program.

Over the past month, Observer reporter Mark Price has written about the wide range of circumstances that led people to stand in line overnight in the cold in hopes of being registered. Many had lost jobs or faced staggering medical bills. Often, families needed help for children they had rescued from neglect.

Price said he was gratified that readers decided these recipients deserved a helping hand.

“I admire our readers,” Price said. “They were willing to take the leap of faith.”

As of Friday, 2,534 individuals and groups had contributed to the fund, a 12 percent increase over last year. Donations ranged from $5 to $10,000 and averaged $143, versus $131 in 2013.

All who donated were invited to be listed in print and online. Many took the opportunity to recognize others who similarly had shown them compassion. “In memory of our mothers,” wrote one donor. “In honor of our teachers,” wrote another. “In honor of my great-grandchildren,” wrote another.

There was also this, attached to one donation. “To whom much is given, much is required.”

On behalf of everyone at The Charlotte Observer, we sincerely thank you for sharing so generously this holiday season. Your giving spirit lifts and inspires us all.

A list of donors

Reach Rick Thames at or 704-358-5001.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Access to free on Christmas Day

Did you get a new screen under the tree? Relaxing on the Web in the quiet of Christmas? Spend some time with us here at

Access to Charlotte Observer digital content is free beginning at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and all day Christmas Day. That includes phones, tablets and, of course, desktops. Explore all you’d like, using our apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows 8. You can download them for free here.

Visitors will find some special treats, including: our year’s top 10 stories and videos, Charlotte’s year in pictures; best political cartoons by Pulitzer-Prize winner Kevin Siers, and 2014 highlights in sports.

I also recommend some gems that are rarely obvious on our home page. They include: the “Daily Edit,” a slideshow of that date’s most compelling photos; our popular guide to the region, called “Living Here;” a searchable guide to area restaurants; and an online comics page with more than twice the comics available in print.

And, with the big Carolina Panthers game set for Sunday, I encourage you to check out our special Panthers app. Charlotte Hornets fans, we have a special app for you, too.

This year, more than 30 million people visited, making it the most viewed local news site in our region. We were honored to host them all, and we welcome you, too. Come see us.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Access is free on Christmas Day

Getting a new screen for the holidays? Take the opportunity to tour during our Digital Open House on Christmas Day.

Access to all of The Charlotte Observer’s digital content is free beginning at 7 p.m. Christmas Eve. That includes all Observer editions on phones, tablets and desktops.

We’ve assembled some treats especially for Christmas Day:

The 10 most watched videos on

The 10 most read stories on

The year in pictures for the Charlotte region.

Most memorable Carolinas sports stories of the year.

Best work in 2014 by our Pulitzer-Prize-winning political cartoonist Kevin Siers.

A list of more than a dozen of our staff’s favorite apps.

A collection of fun online quizzes.

This year, more than 30 million people visited, making it the most viewed local news site in the Carolinas. We were pleased to host them all, and we’d love to have you, too. Come see us.