Family Giving Back To Community That Gave To Them In Their Time Of Need

By: Jenna Emenhiser Email
By: Jenna Emenhiser Email

One Eastern Kentucky family says they know what it's like to lose everything you own, but now they are trying to give back to the community that helped them when they were in need. The family says spreading Christmas cheer makes the season worth while.

For Jeff Ritchie and his family, Christmas has always been a special time of year.

"Christmas it's just the time to give of yourself to other people," Jeff said.

Ritchie says he knows first hand what giving is all about. Five years ago, his family's house burned to the ground two days before Christmas. Ritchie says they lost everything, but the community's support was amazing.

"If you've ever seen the movie "It's A Wonderful Life", in the last scene where George Bailey comes in and all of these people are coming in and helping him and giving him money and this and that. I lived that scene the next morning as we got up people were just lined up down the road," Jeff said.

Ritchie says even the coat on his back came from those donations.

"I'm standing there looking at the house and I feel this coat go over me and I turn around and my best friend had shown up and put this coat on me and a million dollars wouldn't buy this coat from me right now," he said.

Now Ritchie says his family does what they can to give back to the community every night, by spreading the Christmas spirit.

"We gave out presents and candy canes," said Alex Ritchie.

"That's just a small way that we're able to re-pay the thanks," Jeff said.

And with all these decorations everyone has reasons for their favorites.

"Because it has a family of it and the members remind me of me and my mom and dad and my brother," Alex said.

Ritchie says they've had visitors from all over the country stop by to enjoy the lights and this year, even Santa and Mrs. Clause made guest appearances.

"Santa was flying over, saw the lights, and said I've got to stop and check this out," Jeff said.

Ritchie says for his family, Christmas is just like the song says.

"It's the most wonderful time of the year," he said.

The Ritchie family says they plan on leaving their decorations up until the first of the new year and they will continue to decorate for Christmas as long as they are able.

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