SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Lorraine Rivera lost her partner, Joel, just before Thanksgiving.
Their children had just given him their Christmas lists before he lost his life.
With Christmas one week away, the Western Mass News and Big Y Surprise Squad is hoping to bring this family a little bit of joy following a heartwrenching couple of weeks.
Lorraine and Joel were partners for ten years, raising their children together in Northampton, until Joel suddenly went into cardiac arrest on his way to a job interview just a couple days before Thanksgiving.
For an organ donor, the loss of Joel's life meant four others would survive and for Lorraine, it eased her pain, but having to pay for the funeral arrangements meant their children wouldn't have the Christmas they had hoped for with their father dying right after they gave him their Christmas lists, so the Surprise Squad is making sure Lorraine, Ethan, Adriana, and Gianna still have some joy this holiday season.
"Words can't really...I can't put it into words. There are no words...I feel like I'm like not here right now," Lorraine tells us.
The Surprise Squad is teaming up with the Springfield Thunderbirds and the Eastfield Mall to check off the things that were on their Christmas lists.
This is all from the Eastfield Mall. They're donating toys. Also, a night out for your family to go to the 99 and Cinemark. We heard Ethan is a sports fan, loves basketball. The Thunderbirds have donated some shoes for his shoe collection, basketballs, footballs. They have art supplies for Adriana and Gianna, four tickets to go see the Thunderbirds, and a grocery gift card for you. They're donating to make it easier on you.
"I'm so grateful. I feel so blessed," explained Lorraine.
"We wanted to surprise a family going through a tough time with the holidays and maybe didn't have the resources or funds to have as amazing of a Christmas as they wanted and, fortunately, with the Surprise Squad, we were able to identify such an amazing woman and her three kids for her," Ryan Smith, Media Manager for the Springfield Thunderbirds, stated.
And if you want to open this up...that's $500 for you. Whatever you want to do with that money, we want you to be able to do it, use it.
"People are so good. I don't...it restores your faith in humanity," continued Lorraine.
And while the holidays for the Riveras won't be the same, the Squad is hoping all the children, including Adriana, still have a merry Christmas.
"Are you sure this isn't just all in my head?" asked Adriana.
"We appreciate our community and how they support us, so we just wanted to turn around and offer a little bit of support to a family local," Jess Kloss, marketing manager for the Eastfield Mall, says.
"I can almost hear him say something super silly to make you laugh. He was super motivated and so dedicated to his girls and his boys. He loved hard. He was very passionate and he was my rock," added Lorraine.