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‘Everyone needs help sometime’: You can give Christmas joy to York County children

Donate to the Empty Stocking Fund

Join the Charlotte Observer and help families in need this holiday season by giving to the Empty Stocking Fund.
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Join the Charlotte Observer and help families in need this holiday season by giving to the Empty Stocking Fund.

Single mom Tavera Smith is the sole provider for her 20-month-old twin boys Jemarcus and Jemere. She works hard, but struggles financially to pay for necessities.

“Right now, I’m working a seasonal job that I hope will carry me through the holidays,” she said. “After that, it’s all up in the air. I had another job, but my boys kept getting sick and my hours weren’t flexible, so I had to quit to take care of them.”

She’s moved back in with her parents to help make ends meet.

“We’re living with my parents and my mom keeps the boys so I can work,” she said. “I am so grateful for their help, but when it comes right down to it, they are my responsibility.”

With Christmas weeks away, she was worried Santa would have to skip her house this year, until she registered her children with Holiday Partners, a program that provides toys and gifts to children birth to age 14 for Christmas.

Holiday Partners is sponsored by United Way of York County in partnership with OTX Media/WRHI Radio Station’s Toys for Happiness Program and The Herald’s Empty Stocking Fund. Donations help ensure Jemarcus and Jemere, along with about 1,800 other children, will wake up Christmas morning with presents under the tree.

Smith is hoping for a potty seat to help with potty training for her boys, and also something Mickey Mouse or PJ Mask, characters they both love. Whatever they get, she says she will be thankful someone took the time and money to care for her children.

“Some people say ‘aren’t you ashamed asking for help?’ but everyone needs help sometime,” she said. “Even the most successful person in the world had to ask for help somewhere along the way.

“And my main concern is my kids. I want to make sure hey have what they need, and I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to get it for them.”

Smith is making plans and looking forward to the future. This spring, she is returning to Clinton College where she has just over a semester left to get her degree in early childhood education. Then she hopes to find a job as a teacher assistant working with special needs children. She plans to continue on toward a four-year degree as her finances allow.

“In five years, I want to be able to be financially stable and not have to worry about money,” Smith said. “I want to be able to give my boys a good life. And I want to be able to give back, just like others have given to us.”

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 unitedwayofyc.org/hp.

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.

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