Va. Firefighters Save Holiday for Displaced Family - NBC Bay Area
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Va. Firefighters Save Holiday for Displaced Family

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Firefighters Save Holiday for Displaced Family

    City of Manassas Firefighters brought gifts to a family who lost all their belongings in a fire last weekend. (Published Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014)

    Mom's Bible was replaced, with a new cover. The older sister opened brand-new Nike cleats. And the younger sister slung on her backpack, in the shape of Olaf, from the movie "Frozen."

    But this Manassas, Virginia, family was most grateful for the first gift they received: No one was hurt when a fire tore through their rented home Sunday, destroying everything inside, including gifts that had been purchased for the girls.

    The Valladeres family was at church Sunday when the fire erupted, sparked by lights on the family Christmas tree.

    The family did not have renter's insurance, and is being sheltered in a Best Western hotel by the Red Cross.

    Their loss so touched the City of Manassas firefighters who responded to their fire that the firefighters surprised the family on Christmas Eve, bringing gifts to the hotel to replace some of what the family had lost.

    The family was overwhelmed. After encouraging 6-year-old Kimberly to open her gifts, 18-year-old Lisbeth could not hold back tears when she unwrapped the cleats.

    "This is where family really is at," Lisbeth translated for her mother, Mercedes. "Today it could be us, tomorrow it could be another family, but thanks to you guys we are all together."

    The members of the Manassas firefighters and paramedics union didn't have time for a fund-raiser. So they reached into their own pockets to buy the gifts.

    "It brings home why we choose to do this, to help people," said firefighter Michael Nazionale.

    The firefighters did save one thing from the home: Lisbeth's prized Virginia Tech blanket, from the school she dreams of attending one day. The firefighters said she could keep it if she washed it two or three times to get rid of the smoke.