By STEPHANIE COLLINS
10:37 AM EST, December 27, 2012
Local people in and around Boyle County are helping a Livingston family after its home caught fire Christmas Eve.
About 9 a.m. Tuesday, Neal James of Stanford, Turtleman’s sidekick on the “Call of the Wildman” show on the Animal Planet channel, sent out a request on Twitter and Facebook for ideas on where to get toys on Christmas day.
Amy Cromer and her three children lost everything in the fire at their house, including their Christmas presents. James, a distant relative to Cromer, wanted to compensate for the lost gifts in hope the children’s image of Santa would not be lost.
Libby Suttles, director of Blue Bird Market in Danville, saw the post and put James in contact with Andrea Miller, director of the Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.
“I just think that’s kind of incredible that somebody took that on,” Suttles said. “All on Christmas morning, nonetheless.”
Miller happened to have children’s toys in her office leftover from Lincoln County’s Winterfest program for needy kids and after sorting through them for age and gender, she met with James to load up the back of a truck, James said.
He added they were also able to find an open Family Dollar to get a few more gifts.
“We filled up the back of a truck, so I’d say there were about 20 (toys),” Miller said. “Santa never wraps his toys, so it’s a good thing we had not wrapped them.”
Miller said among the gifts were stuffed animals, Hot Wheels, bubbles, games, balls and dolls.
James arrived at the apartment where Cromer and her children are staying with a relative and told them that Santa left their gifts on his roof.
“These little kids were just bouncing around,” James said. “They were just being kids, unconcerned and playing.”
Cromer said her 8-year-old son is a huge fan of “Call of the Wildman” and was thrilled to meet James, who stayed with the family about four hours.
“We were so overwhelmed,” Cromer said. “It was such a blessing, an experience we will never forget. My kids were so excited to find out they would still have a Christmas. It was amazing.”
Suttles plans for Blue Bird Market to donate some furniture to the family, and she thinks the whole event was remarkable.
“Neal took the initiative to care, and Andrea interrupted time with her family to make something big happen,” Suttles said. “Ordinary people with amazing hearts.”
James said this wasn’t the first time social media had been useful for him.
“Just as soon as I put something on there, people start responding and are always willing to help,” he said. “It was the right thing to do.”
The cause of the fire might have been the Christmas tree but is still being investigated.
Monetary donations can be sent to Amy Cromer, P.O. Box 202, Mount Vernon, Ky. 40456.
Copyright © 2013, AM News