Whitenights' dream Christmas
By:Mary Ellen Zangara , Special Writer

Photos by Mary Ellen Zangara
Firefighters deliver the donated gifts to the Whitenight family Friday.
   Santa and Manville firefighters paid a surprise visit Friday to the family of Lynn and Paul Whitenight.
   While many residents know about the visits by Santa that the firefighters organize to deliver presents provided by parents, Friday's visit to the Whitenights was a true surprise.
   The family has been working to arrange a medical procedure for their 4-month-old son, Jake, who was born with microtia bilateral atresia, a condition that results in an improperly formed ear canal — instead of a regular opening for his ear, he has a bony plate that obstructs the canal. To remedy the condition, he will require a special hearing aid and surgeries from specialists in California or Texas.
   After learning of Jake's plight, resident Jennifer Rieger arranged for the visit to the Whitenights for a holiday surprise.
   "I went to school with Paul and read the story (about Jake) and wanted to help," she said. "My daughter, Alyssa, had to have her skull reconstructed so I know what you are going thorough. I couldn't resist."
   Ms. Rieger knew it would be a tough holiday especially with all the medical bills for baby Jake, so she told the members of the Somerset MOMS club of Somerset about the family and they were more than willing to help.
   "The MOMS club in conjunction with the Somerset Meet up group chose to sponsor the Whitenight family in attempts to put a little hope and happiness into their holiday season," she said. "The MOMS club with their dues purchased things for the Whitenight children as well as personal donations from members.
   "They gave a gift card for Ruby Tuesday's so that the Whitenights could go out and have a relaxing evening," she said.
   Ms. Rieger even offered to baby-sit the boys whenever they decided to use it. Another group, the Somerset Meet up group, an Internet-based group, bought the Whitenights nearly a two-month supply of formula for Jake.
   Presents of toys and clothes were given to each of the four boys and even a supply of diapers came. A mom's calendar was also given to Ms. Whitenight so she could keep all the boys activities and appointments on it. When Ms. Rieger brought the idea to her group, she said they did not even think twice. There were complete strangers whom Ms. Rieger hadn't even met donated, too. The donations just started pouring in.
   So on Friday, as Ms. Whitenight was home with her four sons, she heard sirens and told her oldest son, Dylan, to look outside the front door. She thought it was the firetruck bringing Santa around town like the few times before.
   But as the big white 42-tower truck stopped in front of their house on South 21st Avenue along with Santa in his sleigh. Dylan was so excited that he ran out of the house in his socks with no jacket.
   As Ms. Whitenight looked out the door, Santa and firemen from Fire Company No. 1 loaded up gifts and carried them into the house.
   After the initial surprise, a teary-eyed Ms. Whitenight said she felt very thankful for all the generosity.
   "All of the attention and assistance we have been getting even from the town has been great but this take's the cake," she said. "This really makes a nice Christmas for them."
   "We as moms of children know what a valuable thing the gift of hearing is although we can't give that to Jake and his family right now, we decided we had to do everything we could to make this a special time for them," Ms. Rieger said.

©PACKETONLINE News Classifieds Entertainment Business - Princeton and Central New Jersey 2006