Monday, December 22, 2014

Deputies, Community Provide Family With Bright Christmas

An East Naples family is having a bright holiday season, thanks to a chance encounter with a thoughtful Collier County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

It all started when Cpl. Robert Bremer met Nadia Gonzalez on a routine call Dec. 17 during the course of his workday. He soon learned that the single mother of three had a sparsely furnished apartment, no vehicle and no holiday decorations or gifts for her daughters, Naomi, 9, Natalia, 6, and Nicole, 3.

“This is a family that has very little but they are all very content in spite of that,” Cpl. Bremer said. “It makes you realize how much most of us take for granted.”

That evening, Cpl. Bremer told his family about his encounter with the Gonzalezes. Bremer’s 14 year old daughter Mackenzie said she wanted to help the children. She went through her clothes and toys looking for items to donate. And together the Bremer family decided to help Gonzalez and her daughters have a merry Christmas.

The following morning Cpl. Bremer relayed details of the family’s situation to his fellow deputies assigned to the East Naples Patrol District. They immediately joined the effort, giving Cpl. Bremer cash and gift cards to purchase toys and bikes for the girls.

The deputies also reached out to businesses.

Wal-Mart in East Naples donated a Christmas tree and decorations. CTC Carpentry purchased bunk beds for the children and also provided sheets, blankets and comforters. Three businesses - Audio King, Western Bike and Viking Auto - partnered to purchase an older model Mercury Topaz for the family. Deputies contributed the nearly $800 required to pay for the tax, tag and title for the car.

As word spread, others offered to help as well, including a private citizen who donated an entire living room set including a sleeper sofa. Primerica Financial Services donated cash and clothes for Nadia  Gonzalez. Employees of a local company that wishes to remain anonymous donated their Christmas bonuses, totaling several hundred dollars. Trauma nurses from Lee Memorial Hospital donated cash to help purchase vehicle insurance.

On Dec. 19, the Bremer family and a handful of helpers converged on the apartment to deliver the gifts, furniture and car to a clearly surprised and grateful Gonzalez family.

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Naomi Gonzalez squealed with delight as she ran from person to person in the apartment delivering hugs.

Photos by Kristi Lester/CCSO(7)