CRESTVIEW — Christmas isn’t the only thing Lilly Ford celebrates this month; her seventh birthday is Dec. 30, and one area business is ensuring she has a memorable holiday season.
Comfort Inn and Suites in Crestview selected Lilly and her family as recipients of its Comfort Christmas Charity. The hotel’s staff asked the community for donations and collected cash and gift cards totaling over $500, grocery items for a Christmas meal and cookies and gifts for the Ford family, according to hotel sales manager Jillian Davis. Hotel staffers and their families also donated to the cause.
This is the hotel’s first year to present a holiday donation to a family, but they hope to make it an annual tradition, Davis said, adding 45 families were nominated for the donation. Susan Ford’s entry included concerns that her daughter wouldn’t have an adequate Christmas and birthday. This, coupled with the family’s story, compelled Comfort staffers to select the family.
Lilly’s mother cried when hotel general manager Becky Tripplet informed her that in addition to the gift cards and presents the hotel arranged to have the family’s car repaired — currently, the vehicle’s heater is broken.
A traffic accident several years ago left Ford disabled. This required the family to make drastic life changes including moving to an apartment complex with no children Lilly’s age and rehoming their dogs.
In 2014, the family was involved in another car accident that totaled their vehicle. After going several months without a car, they were able to purchase another one, but a month-and-a-half later the family was hit again. This final accident required Lilly’s father to take time off work due to injury; insurance partially covered the damage.
“During my hardest times, I lost faith in humanity,” Ford said. “I didn’t think there were people out there who were to help other people.”
Now, Ford said, she’s truly blessed and realizes there are people who truly care about her family and their situation.
Lilly has struggled with classmates at school this year and is teased for her clothes, Ford said. She said that Lilly often cries and asks if she can stay home from class. Due to their living location, Lilly hasn’t had the opportunity to socialize with peers outside her school, according to Ford.
During the gift reception, the family opened a few of the presents but saved most of them for Christmas morning. Lilly carefully opened her gifts; she said she likes to keep the wrapping paper and bows.
“I always keep everything somebody gives me,” she said as she pulled the wrapping paper off a box.
“Sometimes I open them quick, but sometimes I like to take my time.”