Community comes together, astounding a grieving, financially-strapped family

Community comes together, astounding a grieving, financially-strapped family

[Ed. – Don’t miss this one.]

The angel, according to Mr. Spann, was Amanda Bailley Deforno, an Apollo resident who struck up a conversation with him and his 12-year-old granddaughter, Michaela Jericho, a few weeks ago. Mr. Spann was buying a dress for Michaela to wear to a Christmas dance.

“I could tell they didn’t have a lot, so I gave him the coupon I had for 25 percent off, to save him a few dollars,” Ms. Deforno said. “He was so appreciative. He said, ’Ma’am, you have no idea how much this means. I lost my wife recently after a three-year battle with breast cancer. The disease not only took her life, but it took all of our finances for the treatment and the medications. That coupon means so much.’ …”

Ms. Deforno said she left the mall in tears, and the next morning she decided she wanted to do more. …

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She then watched in amazement as the idea took off like a reindeer-guided sleigh.

“It just happened. We didn’t set out to do any of this,” said Diane DiGregory, general manager of the JCPenney store at Ross Park Mall, where Mr. Spann and his granddaughter were surprised with the holiday presentation Thursday afternoon. …

Mr. Spann, 48, a part-time truck driver, and his wife, Kathy, raised Michaela and Brandon at their home in Belle Vernon since the children were toddlers. But since Mrs. Spann died of breast cancer in August, Mr. Spann has been doing it by himself. …

“I can’t believe all this happened,” Mr. Spann said, his voice choking. “Good things like this don’t happen to me. I can’t believe people could care that much. I mean, I’m not special. I didn’t do anything special.”

“I was speechless,” Michaela, a seventh-grader at Bellmar Middle School, said amid tears of joy. …

Michaela turned to her grandfather, who said he is facing foreclosure on their home.

“Will this help us so we won’t have to move?” she asked.

“It will help,” he said.

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