When Kristine Merritt opened her mail and saw that her parents had sent her children Christmas cards, she couldn’t help but smile.
Until she saw the card for her daughter with special needs – envelope torn open and money meant to buy a Christmas gift missing.
But within an hour of posting the heartbreaking story on social media, Merritt saw the spirit of Christmas alive and well in her fellow South County residents who offered everything from replacing the missing money so that the little girl could enjoy Christmas to letting the family shop for that value in gifts at locally-owned stores.
“I wasn’t looking for anyone to help my daughter but the outpouring of love and support from our caring community is overwhelming me with wonderful emotions of gratitude and love for someone they’ve never met before,” Merritt said after seeing people offering their support to a total stranger. “This was totally unexpected yet warms my heart knowing there are so many loving and caring people that surround our wonderful community.”
Some of those loving and caring people – Lauren Lisa of the Ripon Fun Factory and her husband, Chris – were quick to jump in the thread and offer a chance for the family to come down and pick out merchandise worth the amount of money that was missing in the card so that it didn’t have to put a damper on Christmas.
The Ripon Fun Factory, a full-service toy store located on Main Street in Downtown Ripon, is currently talking with the family to welcome them into the store in the coming days.
“If more people did things for people would be a much better place,” the owner of the Ripon Fun Factory said. “We’re empowered to have this platform and therefore we have to do things for others.
“The spirit of Christmas unfortunately gets so commercialized, but maybe this will push someone on the outside to step in and help people who need it.”
Having a local store owner that she had never met offer up their merchandise to help ensure that her daughter had a special Christmas, Merritt said, was more than she could have possibly hoped for when sharing her tragic tale for local residents on Monday.
“I want to especially thank the people at Ripon Fun Factory for giving my daughter the spirit of Christmas,” Merritt said. “Just the gesture of offering to make up what she lost is absolutely amazing!”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.