Santa makes a most special stop in Egg Harbor Township

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Laura Stetser/Santa takes extra time at the Ciccozzi home during his annual trip around town with the Bargaintown Volunteer Fire Company. Laura Stetser/Santa takes extra time at the Ciccozzi home during his annual trip around town with the Bargaintown Volunteer Fire Company.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – When the Bargaintown Volunteer Fire Company takes Santa on his annual trip around town, the jolly old elf normally just waves to the children from atop one of the fire trucks.

But when he made his rounds Wednesday, Dec. 11, he made a special stop at the house of a family who has had a rough few months.

The Ciccozzi family of Egg Harbor Township experienced a deep loss Nov. 12 when Danielle Ciccozzi, 35, died from complications related to a massive stroke following heart surgery. The cause of her heart problem has not been fully determined.

Ciccozzi left behind her husband, Rocky, and their three young children ages 6, 4 and 9 months. (The family requested not have their names listed.)

 Knowing that this Christmas would not be as bright as others, some of the friends and neighbors of the family decided to help Santa gather gifts to deliver to the three children during this year’s trip around the Bargaintown section of the township.

The gift collection was coordinated by Alexa Taylor, 15, a neighbor who is a freshman at Egg Harbor Township High School. She asked for donations through social media and personal requests.

 From the beginning, Taylor felt the only person who should deliver the gifts was Santa himself. So, with the help of her mother, they contacted Dennis Hofmann, president of the fire company, to coordinate the delivery.

“We were really happy to help out,” Hofmann said. “People support us in our fund drives and coin drops, so this is our way of giving back. We all get a kick out of it.”

 After the logistics were arranged, the gifts were wrapped with the help of another friend, Alyssa Tavarez, also of Egg Harbor Township.

Three sacks were filled with the gifts and dropped off to the fire station for Santa’s delivery with a special note for each child from Santa.

 During the delivery that night, neighbors came out of their homes to watch Santa bring the gifts. The kids’ faces lit up with excitement as they received each wrapped gift.

 Their grandmother Bea Ciccozi, who has been helping care for the children since her daughter-in-law’s death, said it was a special night.

 “My grandson came out earlier and noticed how bright the stars were,” she said. “He told me that the brightest one was his mom up in heaven, and he needed to find the tallest ladder to reach her.”

The letters from Santa are below with the children's names omitted:

Laura Stetser/The sacks are stuffed with gifts for the three young children. Laura Stetser/The sacks are stuffed with gifts for the three young children.

Dear (oldest child),

 Santa is so proud of you for being such a good girl this year.

 I know it is hard because your Mommy was sick, but you are so brave and kind… and beautiful inside and out.

 The Elves made extra toys for you and your brother and sister. We wouldn’t be able to fit them all on the sleigh so we are dropping some off early to you this year.

 I’ll tell you a little secret…

 It was Prancer’s idea because he knows what happens if we get off schedule. Mrs. Claus worries about us and we don’t want that.

 Don’t forget… I get hungry on my busiest night of the year, so leave me some cookies and milk on Christmas Eve.

 Love,

Santa

***

Dear (middle child),

 I’m so happy that you’re always on the top of the “Nice List.”

 You’ve been such a good boy and I know you always will be.

 I know this year was hard because your Mommy was sick, but you are such a brave boy and such a wonderful brother.

 You’re very special because you were chosen to be a little brother AND a big brother.

 The Elves made extra toys for you and (your sisters). There’s so many we have to drop of some early.

 Tonight is so much fun because riding on a big fire truck is something Santa doesn’t get to do every day. Usually I have to drive the sleigh, but tonight I just have to wave and say, “ho, ho, ho.”

 Don’t forget to leave Rudolph a carrot or some oats. He gets hungry leading my sleigh. I’ll stick to the cookies… It helps my belly shake when I laugh like a bowl full of jelly… ho, ho, ho!

 Love,

 Santa

***

Dear (youngest child),

 Adorable, lovable, affectionate, incredible, nice and awesome. Your big brother an d sister will help you learn these words as you get older. They all describe you.

You’re mixed with sugar and spice and everything nice… just like your Mommy.

  I will be looking for you on my “Nice List” every year because I know that’s where I’ll find you.

 Love,

Santa


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