Firefighters almost resembled a bucket brigade as they delivered presents Christmas Eve to the Roberts family at Baymont Inn and Suites. Three firetrucks and a crammed van were trailed by individual vehicles from multiple departments.

Archived Story

Gift brigade saves Christmas

Published 2:20pm Monday, December 26, 2011

A three-firetruck convoy led by Santa Claus “overwhelmed” the Roberts family Christmas Eve with their bucket brigade of wrapped presents, food and clothing it took an extra van to transport.
The family — Scott and Morgan and their four children, Taylor, 8; Cody, 7; Connor, 5; and Tanner, 4 — lost their home and possessions in a fire Dec. 17.
Saturday, they rode around the Baymont parking lot in an Indian Lake firetruck piloted by Santa.
“It was our first home together and the only home our kids have ever known,” said Scott, who was just 19 when they purchased the Forest Beach residence. “We were just getting ready for the holidays. We bought a brand-new Christmas tree like four days before. The kids bought stuff at Santa’s secret shop” through Sister Lakes Elementary School.
“The fire department needs recognition for all they’ve done,” Morgan said. “They say they were just the drop point, but they’ve gone above and beyond. I can’t thank them enough — and it was multiple departments. When the line was so long, they couldn’t get anymore down off M-62, they started coming down the other way off Brush Lake Road. We just can’t thank everybody enough. There are no words for all of this.”
The family has been calling around about renting a storage unit, “but nothing’s available,” Scott said. “Right now, we’re kind of living out of the back of my pickup and this is more than that will hold,” he refers to the piles of holiday cheer deposited in their already cramped two-room quarters, including their two Labradors and a turtle.
“We’ve been overwhelmed through this whole process,” Scott agrees with his wife. “It just keeps going to another level you didn’t know existed. The Red Cross. The local fire departments. Churches. Local businesses. The community, actually. It would be unfair to try to thank them all. I could never name them all, and many of them were anonymous. We have about a three-page list. It’s unbelievable.”
Their rooms have a small Christmas tree, “so we’re going to do what we can with the situation and spend the remainder of the day with family. We had a lady that we never met  drive all the way from Chicago with a van load of clothes because she saw it on Facebook. I never realized anything like this was possible. We’ve struggled, like any family, through the times we live in now, but we’ve never had anything like this happen before.”
“We understand what you’re going through and everybody in the community wants to help you out,” Indian Lake Fire Chief Bryan Huggins tells the family.
“We want to make sure you guys and your kids have a great Christmas. You’ll be surprised at how far away some of this stuff came.”
“We couldn’t save the house, but maybe we can save Christmas,” added Jim Scholz of Sister Lakes Fire Department.
Talking amongst themselves, several mention the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where “everybody pulls together to help a family in need.”
“We’re going to be here until we find someplace else,” Scott said.
“The holidays put a screeching halt (on house-hunting) for probably a week, until after the 1st because agencies that are trying to help are shut down. The hotel staff has been very accommodating and made an exception to let our dogs in. The dogs and the turtle are all I was able to get out of the house.”

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