Some area kids are counting on the United Way of York County to make their Christmas wishes come true. But there's a problem: The nonprofit agency doesn't have enough dolls, trucks and other goodies to meet the demand.
"We have more kids this year," said Beth Covington, director of marketing and communications. "Our demand has gone up."
United Way's "Toys for Happiness" provides five to six items plus some stocking stuffers for needy children up to age 14 in York County.
"It's not extravagant, but it's special," said Kim Keel, president of the United Way of York County. "People are praying as they pack for the children. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."
Last year, the 21-year endeavor and supporting agencies made Christmas possible for nearly 2,900 children, Keel said.
This year, those seeking help grew by 15 percent to 20 percent, and the United Way with four partners plans to meet the need with help from the community, she said.
"We're about children having toys under the tree Christmas morning," Keel said. "We don't want any child to wake up Christmas morning without something special just for them under the tree."
Around noon Tuesday, about 400 families with around 800 children were waiting for their Christmas list to be packed, Keel said.
"We've got the lists, bags and volunteers," she said. "We just need the toys."
Covington said the United Way saw a surge in donations from some partners, but "what we've received is not meeting the need."
Meanwhile, grandparents raising their grandchildren on fixed incomes, single parents and others with life-changing dynamics such as sickness and layoffs struggle to meet their daily obligations as they worry about making Christmas happen, she said.
Covington recalled an unemployed York County woman who turned to the United Way for help for her two elementary school-aged children and one preschooler.
"Her husband was killed in a car accident this summer," said Covington, who noted the stay-at-home mom did not receive life insurance. Any money she gets goes toward the mortgage for the home that her late husband helped build.
"The situations that they come to us with may be different, but we want the outcome to be the same," Covington said. "Their everyday lives are hard enough without having to worry about disappointing their children on Christmas."
Less than a week before Christmas, Covington wants the magic of the holiday to reach those parents.
"We want them to watch their kids' faces light up Christmas morning," she said. "We need everyone's help to make sure that every child who still believes in Christmas magic has it on Christmas morning."
The United Way of York County needs your help to make Christmas brighter for some children.
Checks, payable to United Way with "Toys for Happiness" in the memo line, should be mailed to United Way of York County, P.O. Box 925, Rock Hill, SC 29731.
Donors also can hand-deliver their monetary gifts to the agency's Rock Hill-based office at 226 North Park Drive, off Dave Lyle Boulevard. Donations also can be taken to radio station WRHI at 142 N. Confederate Ave. in downtown Rock Hill.
Individuals also can visit www.unitedwayofyc.org and click on "click here to donate."
Toys also can be dropped off. For details or to volunteer your time, call Beth Covington at 324-2735.