Making a Difference: Giving to a family in need this Christmas in honor of lost loved one
WINDBER, Pa. (WJAC) - The holidays can be difficult after losing a loved one. Danielle Claar's mother, Nancy Claar, always made Christmas magical for their family with festive decorations, well-thought out surprises and beautifully wrapped gifts.
It's the first Christmas without her Mom, so in honor of her Danielle decided to carry on her mother’s tradition of spreading holiday cheer by giving to a family in need.
“I can see so many Christmases with what she did for the kids and everything just running through my head,” Larry Claar said with tears in his eyes.
Larry can't get his wife, Nancy, out of his mind.
It's the first Christmas he and their children, Danielle and Matthew, will spend without her.
She loved this time of year in their Windber home.
“My mom always loved Christmas so much and she loved us so she made sure that our Christmas were always super special,” Danielle said.
Through the grief, Danielle is doing what her mom did best.
Decorating her home with her boyfriend Scott and spreading holiday cheer but to a family in need in Windber.
"Originally I felt like I was losing my Christmas spirit and I didn't want that to happen so it was like what can we do, what can we do then I was like she would nothing more than to give that feeling to someone else,” Danielle said.
Nancy passed away last New Year’s Eve at 59 years old.
She had Rheumatic Fever when she was a young child and had to have open heart surgeries throughout her life.
Larry says because of her health, that's why she always created the most magical Christmas mornings.
"I think it was mostly because her health wise, she figured she didn't know if she might not be here tomorrow and she just devoted it to the kids,” Larry said. “We could spend all this money on wrapping paper and there was always a ton of gifts for them to open, she just liked watching them open them.”
Danielle says her brother, Matthew, was a miracle baby born around Christmas.
Doctors said Nancy and the baby could die if she went through with the pregnancy but she found a doctor that was willing to help her. Her story made newspapers and Good Housekeeping magazine.
Nancy's health was strong for many years after that but last year, they spent Christmas in the hospital in matching pajamas.
“She’s just always been a fighter and I think that's why it was so unexpected,” Danielle said as she shows a picture from the hospital Christmas morning. “Because even though she was in the hospital for Christmas we just expected her to come through again."
To make Nancy’s wish come true this year, Danielle asked people to nominate families in need in Cambria and Somerset Counties on Facebook and they picked a family in Windber.
What Nancy did every December was never about presents under the tree but unwrapping the feeling of love and togetherness.
“We miss her and hopefully this will be a piece of her still floating around for Christmas,” Larry said. "Just kind of want everyone to remember her.”
The family will get gifts, money for groceries and a Christmas eve bag to prepare for Santa.
“I hope she is proud, I hope we are honoring her. I think she's probably thinking... See, this is what I did all these years and you guys didn't know,” Danielle said. “I hope she's happy, I hope she knows how much she's missed and loved."
“She really did a good job and Nance would be proud," Larry said.
Nancy always made all of their Christmas wishes come true and because of her they still believe in the magic of Christmas.
“She always made it come together and it did, it felt like magic, everyone deserves to have that so hopefully we pass that onto someone else and they wake up excited and maybe think of mom as the angel helping Santa,” Danielle said.
Danielle will deliver the presents to the family and the Christmas Eve box that includes matching PJs and jingle bells from Rudolph and Santa’s sleigh.
The family they chose is an aunt and 4 children who were once in foster care due to their parents being involved with drugs.
Danielle says she's going to give them an angel ornament because her mom loved angels and hopefully they'll remember this Christmas and remember Nancy.
Danielle. would love to continue doing this every Christmas. She hopes next year they can help more families and maybe even collect donations.
You can reach out to her on this Facebook page.