PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — One of the largest and oldest fundraisers in the Panhandle kicked off Thursday in Panama City.

It’s the 39th year for the Salvation Army’s Empty Stocking Fund, one of their most impactful fundraisers of the year.

“It helps the community at a time when the need is generally greatest. You know, the holidays, Christmas time, making sure that as many families as possible can have a joyous Christmas with presents under the tree,” Bill Cramer, Bill Cramer Chevrolet owner said.

This year’s goal is to raise $200,000 dollars.

“The community has been tremendously generous over the years to a total of $6.1 million. And that’s a great testament to our community, one of the most giving communities, I think, in the country,” Cramer said.

Salvation Army Major Ed Binnix said the money carries the organization throughout the year.

“We buy lots of food, we go almost every week to buy food in bulk. We also help folks with utility bills and some housing assistance. We also have a transitional housing shelter. We run the only hotline for domestic violence in this part of the state and we also have a shelter for those who are trying to flee domestic violence, as well as helping them relocate to other parts of the country,” Binnix said.

Binnix said he loves seeing the fundraiser grow each year.

“I came here right after Hurricane Michael, and they had had their biggest year ever because of the hurricane but in a standard year, I’ve seen it grow about 20 percent or about 10 percent every year since then, and now last year we did it right around I think we were up at around $249,000 and that helped us to have a really strong year to help people,” Binnix said.

You can drop a check by the deposit box in the Bill Cramer Chevrolet showroom or mail them directly to the Salvation Army at 1824 West 15th Street in Panama City.

The campaign kicked off Thursday night, with the opening-day total reaching $17,000 dollars.

You can make a donation here.