Many times a tip is an afterthought. You toss a few bills on the table at the end of a meal or add a few dollars to the receipt before signing your name. For Samantha Edwards, 33, that tip may determine whether she eats dinner that night or goes to bed hungry.
The single mother of four has waited tables for 14 years and is good at her job. She enjoys serving others but says it has become harder to depend on her job for a steady income.
“Tips have become unpredictable. I used to be able to estimate what I would be taking home at the end of the day. Now, I have no idea,” she said.
Servers are less than minimum wage, with the understanding customers’ tips will make up the difference. When a customer doesn’t tip, Edwards and her children go without.
Several times she has tried to go back to school in hopes of securing a higher paying job but found it too difficult to juggle children, work and homework.
When her children grow a little older, she says she will return to the classroom.
Right now, she works hard just to keep up with her bills. There is nothing left for Christmas presents.
Edwards and other parents are grateful for the United Way’s Holiday Partners Program. Together with WRHI’s Toys for Happiness Program and the Rock Hill Herald’s Empty Stocking Fund, Holiday Partner’s Program will provide Christmas gifts for more than 2,000 York County children who otherwise would wake up to no presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
Herald readers are encouraged to donate to the Empty Stocking Fund to enable the Holiday Partner’s Program to supplement the donated toys and ensure each child gets at least one gift on their wish list.
Edwards’ 10-year-old daughter, a shark lover, would like anything related to the sea creatures. Her 4-year-old daughter would like a Barbie, and her 3-year-old son would like a Paw Patrol toy and cars.
“He is a car fanatic,” Edwards said.
She says her baby, a 1-year-old girl, would be happy with anything.
She’s hoping for better times next year, but until then, she wants folks to know how much their contributions mean to her and her family this holiday season.
“I’ve never struggled this hard before, and I’ve never had to ask for help like this. But it is wonderful to know there are people out there who care,” Edwards said. “Thanks to the Holiday Partners Program, my kids will have presents to open Christmas morning.”
Total: $4,092 (as of Dec. 14)
Larry Stroman, $20
Mary Mullaney, $100
Broadus Thomasson, $100
Gerald MacDonald, $15
Rawlinson Baptist Church, $200
John Beam, $15
Gordon Shull, $100
Pam Morrell, $500
Zeta Amicae of Rock Hill, $25
Elliott Close, $1,000
David Guyton, $50
Pat Youngblood, $100
The Fan Man, $100
Rayford Flowder Jr., $50
Michael Doherty, $100
Nancy Mannion, $100
Dennis Harrington, $250
Genevieve Ridout Long, $100
Gerry and Barbara Schapiro, $25
Mark Sample, $1,000
Frances Cauthen, $25
Jane Ligon, $25
Linus Halin, $50
R. L. McCoy, $100
Margaret Adams, $100
Ladson and Karyn Barnes, $500
Earlene Massey, $150
Want to help?
▪ Volunteer: To collect and pack gift bags, contact United Way at 803-324-2735 or visit volunteersignup.org/K3MFF.
▪ Financial contributions: Make checks payable to the Empty Stocking Fund and mail to The Herald, 132 W. Main St., Rock Hill, SC 29731, or dropped off at the office. Donations also may be made online at unitedwayofyc.org/hp_donations. Contributors' names will be published in The Herald.
▪ Donate: New, unwrapped toys for all ages are needed. Collection boxes are set up at United Way at 226 Northpark Drive, Rock Hill; WRHI radio station, 142 N. Confederate Ave., Rock Hill; and Upper Palmetto YMCA locations throughout York County.