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Santa's helpers save Christmas


Christian Reeves, age 4, drives around at Grandma and Grandpa's in Bear Valley on Christmas day. He's not aware of any of the holiday mishaps, proving that the holiday spirit is still alive in Tehachapi. Courtesy photo.

Tehachapi – "Dad, did you get the boxes of Christmas gifts out of the truck already," Chelsey Reeves said shortly after pulling into the Bear Valley driveway three days before Christmas.

The negative reply saddened Reeves as this recently single-mom knew that if they didn't find the gifts the already thin holiday would be hard to explain to her 4- and 5-year-old boys who were already struggling with the changes in the holiday happenings.

Reeves and her father began retracing her drive all the way out of Tehachapi, down through the windmills and even farther into Antelope Acers and out toward the 5 freeway.

"After the long drive up here, at 8:30 at night they got back in the car and drove all the way back to the last time Chelsey remembered seeing them in the truck," sister-in-law Molly Hensler said. "They didn't get back here until 1:30 in the morning, empty handed."

Thinking all holiday cheer was lost and now in the hands of a greedy passersby Reeves, who had scrapped together the money to purchase the gifts, fell asleep exhausted and resigned to having her boys begin disbelieving in the promise of Santa.

In steps Santa's helpers, also known as the Lopez family.

Paul and Terry Lopez, of Tehachapi, were driving down to Lancaster to do some last minute shopping. Coming around a curve, on Tehachapi Willow Springs Road, Terry saw the boxes. One was full of wrapped presents and the other was full of decorations.

The Lopez's 23-year-old son, Matt, decided to see if they could reunite the gifts with their rightful givers.

"It was a shot in the dark, because we didn't know if they were dropped by people heading up to or away from Tehachapi, or even if they had a Facebook page, but I figured a post on the Tehachapi Sales group couldn't hurt," Matt said.

In short, Matt's post read: "Two boxes of gifts found... tell me who they are for and who they are from and we will get them back to you."

"I was shocked to find the post was shared 180 times in such a short time," Matt said.

Within four hours Hensler, the sister-in-law of Reeves, saw the shared post on the "Tehachapi Alerts" Facebook page. Hensler contacted Matt. The names of the "To" and "From" were confirmed and arrangements were made for a hushed Santa style delivery on the twenty-third.

"We are still so surprised, because, you know, people just don't do the right thing anymore," Hensler said. "We expected the people who found them to just sell them and keep the money."

But not this time.

"You see so many negative things around, on the news, in the paper, packages being stolen...we were just raised, to do something, because it is the right thing to do," Matt said humbly. "After all, if that happened to me, I'd want someone to do the same for us," Matt added, in hopes of inspiring others to live a "Pay It Forward" style of life.

The generosity and kindness was felt in more ways than one.

"Shortly after Matt met me in town, I received an envelope with money in it, for my sister-in-law. It was given 'anonymously,' but I am pretty sure it was Matt. He wouldn't even let me thank him," Hensler said.

"It wasn't much, it was just what I felt like I wanted to do. After all, this mom and kids were having a hard time, a rough holiday and I just hope the love gift was something that helped make their holiday easier, brighter, a little happier," Matt said.

"We can't thank the Lopez family enough," Reeves said.

"It was a bigger present than the Lopezes know, because someone showed us there are still good people up here in Tehachapi. We now have a Christmas present that goes way beyond the holidays," Hensler explained.


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