Mom uses 'Toys' program to give her 2 kids what she didn't have

Aterra knows the struggles single mothers face. The York mother of two juggles parenting, working and studying for her GED. There never seems to be enough to go around.

"I have a job, but I only get to work three days a week because I go to school and work," she said, "and I can't really buy everything that they need or would like to have."

The holidays present an extra challenge to living on an already limited income. So, Aterra has turned to the United Way of York County's Toys for Happiness program to help bring joy to her children this Christmas morning.

Because so many more families need help this Christmas, The Herald's Empty Stocking Fund will donate all of its money this year to two local holiday toy programs -- Toys for Happiness and the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program.

Aterra's children, ages 3 and 6, are excited about Christmas and talk about Santa Claus, Aterra said, but their wish lists are simple. Both just want toys and will be grateful for anything they receive.

"They're not very picky," she said.

Growing up, Aterra said she woke up on several Christmas mornings to find an empty stocking and tree. She doesn't want her children to go through the same disappointment. She's grateful for programs such as Toys for Happiness and the Salvation Army's Angel Tree, which helped her out last year.

"It means a lot to me, because I want them to have what I didn't have," she said, adding that her children loved their gifts last year and truly were appreciative.

After she earns her GED, Aterra plans to continue her studies at York Technical College. She wants to become a nurse, eventually pursuing a bachelor's degree. She said she wants to help others as she has been helped.