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Childrens’ Christmas presents weren’t in her budget until Holiday Partners stepped in

Life isn’t easy for Nanceann Durden. She’s the mother to three girls, ages 8, 10, and 10. She also takes care of her husband who is unable to work right now, and his grandfather who lives with them.

Durden is self-employed. She sells items at home parties, but is only able to work part-time because she takes one child with special needs to therapy twice a week and drives her husband and his grandfather to various doctors’ appointments each week.

“I have been trying to find a regular job, but it’s hard because of the schedule I have to keep,” Durden said.

Needless to say, Christmas presents don’t fit into the family’s tight budget.

So Durden has again registered her girls for the Holiday Partner’s program, sponsored by the United Way of York County in partnership with OTS Media/WRHI Radio Station’s Toys for Happiness Program and The Herald’s Empty Stocking Fund.

The Herald asks that readers make monetary donations to help ensure that almost 1,800 children, like Durden’s, will wake up to toys under their trees on Christmas morning.

Durden is scheduled to pick up her girls’ presents on Dec. 14.

To save on wrapping paper, she’s already purchased three big Christmas bags from the dollar store. She plans to stuff a bag for each child then place it under their little tree, so they can to wonder about it until Christmas morning.

“We went to Walmart and they picked out a small, $16 fiber optic tree. I told them that Christmas wasn’t about how big your tree is or how many presents you get, it’s about family and the birth of Jesus,” Durden said.

That lesson, she says, rings especially true for her girls this year.

“Our girls are very understanding about our economic situation. They know that we sign up for presents each year, and they just put basic things on their list. This year it is crafts, foxes, and pigs. But whatever they get, they will be excited,” Durden said.

As for those who donate to the program, Durden said there aren’t words to express her gratitude.

“It’s beyond words to say how grateful I am to the people that make Christmas possible for my children,” Durden said.

“It gives me the ability to say ‘okay girls, we may not have much, but I can still give you something.’ To see them light up on Christmas morning is indescribable. Thank you.”

Want to help?

Community members can drop off unwrapped, new toys at the following locations:

  • United Way of York County at 226 Northpark Drive, suite 100, Rock Hill.
  • The WRHI Radio Station, 142 N. Confederate Ave., Rock Hill.
  • More locations will soon be announced soon.

Gifts needed include arts and crafts items, puzzles and games, sports balls, earbuds, dolls, gift cards, scarves and hats. The gifts should be tailored to boys and girls up to 14 years old.

Monetary donations can be made online at

Checks may be mailed to the United Way of York County, P.O. Box 925, Rock Hill, SC 29731. Make checks payable to the Empty Stocking Fund.


Here is the list of most recent donors to The Herald’s Empty Stocking Fund:

  • Anonymous, Nov. 21
  • Linus and Judith Halin, Nov. 30
  • Elinor Florack, Nov. 30
  • James and Sandra Renhardt, Nov. 30
  • Walter Martinson, Nov. 30
  • Meredith E. and Barbara R. Bynum, Nov. 30
  • Gerry and Barbara Schapiro, Nov. 30
  • Paul Bagwell, Nov. 30
  • Stanley and Rosmarie Janeski, Nov. 30
  • Sara Kay Lynes, Nov. 30
  • Dennis and Vivian Harrington, Nov. 30
  • R.D. Graham, Nov. 30
  • Pam Morrell, Nov. 30
  • John D. Beam Jr, Nov. 30