dream Christmas |
Ellen Zangara , Special Writer |
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
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
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
"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
"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
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.
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.
Ms. Whitenight looked out the door, Santa and firemen from Fire
Company No. 1 loaded up gifts and carried them into the
After the initial surprise, a teary-eyed
Ms. Whitenight said she felt very thankful for all the
"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.