Nation & World

Locals are forced to choose lights or rice, heat or meat

So many York County, S.C. families with a couple of bucks got clothes or electronics for Christmas.

Thousands of kids in families without a few dollars opened toys, donated by terrific people willing to help somebody know Christmas is about giving.

Linda Mathis got a letter. It was not from Santa Claus.

The letter had one word that knows no holiday. In big letters: "Disconnect."

Anybody who is broke knows "disconnect" is not some fancy term smarty-pants political types use to describe an inability to reach a voting group. It's what utility companies do to your electric when you can't pay the bill.

"It's hard right now and not just for me," Mathis said. "I just couldn't pay it."

So Monday morning, four days after Christmas, Mathis went to a house with the word "Hope" over the front door -- Project Hope at 411 Park Ave., a place where volunteers collect food and money just to give it away as fast as it comes in.

Mathis found more than 30 people had beat her to "Hope" on this Monday.

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