An Orem, Utah, family who lost almost everything in a house fire received an unexpected surprise from some of the first responders who saved their lives.
Some police officers went above and beyond to help this family enjoy the holiday season.
Larry and Gloria Peterson lost their house to a fire Nov. 24. They had raised 10 children there and lived in the home 40 years.
Two days after the fire, having lost most of their possessions, the couple met at their son Jeremy’s house.
“We were gathering together as a family, just spending some time with my mom and dad,” Jeremy Peterson said.
They were also waiting for Orem Police Officer Greer Haymond who had responded the morning of the fire. He had called that evening, telling the family he had some questions to ask for his report.
But his visit had nothing to do with his report.
“After the fire as I was leaving the residence, I noticed in the front yard that a lot of her Christmas decorations were melted from the house fire,” Officer Haymond said.
He texted his fellow officers and started collecting money.
“Immediately, everybody on my crew was on board to help out,” said Haymond.
By Wednesday night that week, as he and another officer arrived at the Peterson house, they had a big surprise to share with the family.
Jeremy Peterson answered the door and saw the officers holding a box of ornaments and a Christmas tree.
“It was very kind, very thoughtful,” said Jeremy Peterson.
He said his mother broke down and cried. “It meant a lot to all of us knowing how much my mom and dad have been struggling and hurting.”
Tyler Harvey, a Peterson son-in-law, was so moved that he wrote to the Orem Police Department to tell the story of the officers’ good deed. His letter was shared on Facebook.
“It’s what we do,” Haymond said, who is a little humble about all the praise. “I’m just glad I was put in a position to help.”
To him, it was just another chance to do that. But to the family, it meant much more.
“Police officers, they deserve a little recognition every now and then,” Harvey said. “So thank you.”
The house fire reportedly started in the carport area. The cause is still under investigation.
Meanwhile, Larry and Gloria Peterson are living in the basement apartment of another child’s house for the time being. But thanks to the officers, they will have a Christmas tree.