Christmas cheer arrives by fire truck, lasagna

Posted 12/31/19

The Christmas spirit fills many each year, but two local organizations truly imbued the holiday this year by making Christmas day a helpful one.

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Christmas cheer arrives by fire truck, lasagna

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The Christmas spirit fills many each year, but two local organizations truly imbued the holiday this year by making Christmas day a helpful one.

The North Zulch Volunteer Fire Department, still reeling from the death of secretary Amber Alewine in a Dec. 8 one-car accident, turned their focus to Amber’s son Jeremiah. Members of the department surprised the nine-year-old with a load of presents, including a bicycle, train set, hoverboard, remote control cars as well as shoes, clothes and jackets.

“We started (getting the presents together) about two or three days after the accident,” said Tony Clay, acting chief of the department. “We wound up with about 30-40 gifts.

“[Jeremiah] made a statement the other day that he was not looking to get what he had wanted for Christmas. So we put those right at the top of the list -- a bicycle and a hoverboard.”

The department solicited contributions for the effort, but the most desired gift – the hoverboard – came from the largesse of Captain J.C. Clay.

Meanwhile, a little later on Christmas morning, Madisonville Italian restaurant Luigi’s opened their doors to provide a free Christmas dinner for anyone not able to afford a big spread on their own.

No Christmas goose or turkey, though, as the restaurant stayed with their own traditional foods: spaghetti, lasagna, chicken fettucine alfredo, et al. Luigi’s prepared enough for 200 diners, but had 40 servings left over. So they went to the House of Hope.

“We saw they really needed it and they didn’t have a chance to come to us,” said Ida Demo, manager of the Madisonville location of Luigi’s. “So we went to them.”

The feast was the inspiration of owner Andon Haxhiraj, who also prepared a similar dinner for his Huntsville location on Christmas Eve. The restaurant plans to make the dinner an annual event.

“We have been in Madisonville for a year now, and we really loved how people reacted towards our food and how they welcomed our family here,” Demo said. “They were so nice and loving, and of course very supportive.

“It was an amazing feeling to be able to help those in need and it made our Christmas day even better, because to us that's what Christmas really is, helping and loving each other.”

Members of the North Zulch Volunteer Fire Department certainly agree. And the efforts helped to honor their fallen, much beloved colleague.

“[Amber] was an asset to the department,” Clay said. “I’m not sure anyone else in the department can do what she did. She was so good at what she did.”

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