Mother turns to Toys for Happiness as family settles in to life in the U.S.

In America, it has been difficult for Ana to stand on her own two feet. A native of Mexico, she does not speak English well and is dependent upon her husband to get by.

Ana said she needs help with tasks that would be simple for most Rock Hill residents, such as calling a cab or scheduling a doctor's appointment for her 4-year-old daughter.

She's not content to remain limited in her abilities, though. So she is taking English as a Second Language classes at the Adult Education Center in Rock Hill.

"I need to know how to express myself intelligently," she said recently through an interpreter.

Not surprisingly, Ana has extended that emphasis on education and independence to her daughter -- and will continue to do so when her second child is born next month. Because the family is limited economically, Ana has turned to Toys for Happiness to provide educational toys for her daughter at Christmas.

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.

Ana is grateful for help and said she especially appreciates age-appropriate toys and books, since she does not know what would be best developmentally for her daughter.

"It's something that will benefit her once she goes to school," she said, adding that she'd particularly like books that will help her daughter learn letters and numbers.

The family has been helped by Toys for Happiness for four years, and Ana said she has seen the educational impact the right toys can make.

As Ana's knowledge of English and America has grown, so have her family's traditions. In Mexico, her family would have opened gifts from the Three Kings on Jan. 6.

Now, thanks to Toys for Happiness, the Three Kings will still find their way to her house, but they will arrive on Dec. 25.