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After 'worst year,' family enjoys holidays thanks to help of strangers

By Ari Hait, Reporter
Published On: Dec 27 2012 07:31:21 AM HST

Perfect strangers band together to help family

JUPITER, Fla. -

There were gifts under the tree at the Kalisz home in Jupiter this year. While that may not seem like a big deal, it meant everything to the family.

Last November, 14-year-old Michael Kalisz was diagnosed with skin cancer.

"It was just the worst feeling in the world," he said. "I didn't know if I was going to be OK."

Then, in April, Michael found his father, Gary, in his bedroom. He had died of a heart attack.

"The worst year of my life," said Michael's mother, Debbie Kalisz. "The worst year that anybody could ever imagine. And I would never wish that on anyone to walk in my shoes."

The family is not only hurting emotionally but financially, as well. Michael's medical bills and the loss of Gary's income left no money for the holidays.

"That broke my heart," Debbie said. "That broke my heart. Never could imagine waking up on Christmas morning and not having Christmas for my sons."

That's when the most remarkable things started to happen. A note appeared in the mailbox saying a Christmas tree had been paid for, that the family just had to pick it up. Gifts randomly appeared at their home, most anonymously. The community was giving them Christmas spirit.

"It's not about the presents under the tree," Debbie said. "It's about the gift of love, compassion and friendship.

"We were strangers. They're not strangers. They reached out. And I am so thankful to each of them."

To learn more about the Kalisz family and to find out how you can help, click here.

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