FORT WALTON BEACH — Community helping community. That is what the Empty Stocking Fund has been about, and this year was no different.

With the fund now over $97,000, the campaign's goal of $100,000 seems attainable.

For the second year in a row, a donation of $25,000 was made by Dr. Gerald Hollingsworth to push the Empty Stockings Fund much closer to the goal.

“He’s an angel that walks among us,” said Tom Rice, chairman of the advisory board for Okaloosa and Walton Salvation Army.

Hollingsworth, a Niceville resident and retired physician, gave the donation Thursday. Rice referred to him as a “senior citizen who hasn’t lost sight of community.”

Rice said the Empty Stocking Fund wouldn't be possible without people like Hollingsworth and other donors who give generously

“Number one, we are so grateful to the community,” Rice said. “We just can’t thank folks enough for making the Empty Stocking Fund the success it’s been.”

The Empty Stocking Fund is a joint effort between the Northwest Florida Daily News and the Salvation Army.

“It's refreshing for us to be able to participate in such a noble, worthy cause," said Tim Thompson, publisher of the Daily News.

The fund was initiated 34 years ago by Dorothy Mullin, a now-retired Daily News secretary. Rice said since the beginning of the fund, well over $1 million has been raised.

“This is something that the Daily News created and has fostered,” Rice said. “We couldn’t have done it without you.”

The Empty Stocking Fund is used to serve the people of Okaloosa and Walton County through the Salvation Army Corps office in Fort Walton Beach.

Money raised by the campaign remains in the county to help people who struggle financially.

The Salvation Army in Bay County used Empty Stocking Fund donations through the Panama City News Herald to assist victims of Hurricane Michael.

"I think the impact is difficult to measure considering how many lives it influences," Thompson said. "And I know enough about the support of the people in need that it goes beyond Christmas."