LIVERMORE, Calif. (KTVU) - A tragic Christmas for a little girl in Livermore ended with an amazing outpouring of support. Livermore Police and Firefighters took it upon themselves to play Santa Claus and deliver a happy holiday to the girl.
It started with a 911 call on Christmas Day from a local hotel. "A maid had located an unresponsive 39-year-old female inside a room. And a small child was present," said Livermore Police officer Dave Morris.
The woman, Angela Alves, later died at the hospital. The incident prompted her 6-year-old daughter to say something heartbreaking to Officer Morris.
"She had said that Santa couldn't come because Mommy wouldn't wake up. Exactly. How does that not tug at your heartstrings," he asked.
So, the police's mission to serve and protect didn't end there.
"There was a stack of toys donated by the Livermore Pleasanton Fire Dept. Gift cards from their foundation, all I did was go in there, in the briefing and mention it to the troops and say look, all of us need to go out and by a gift for this young lady today," explained Morris.
On Saturday, Officer Kringle... er, Morris... and other members of the department and some firefighters, went to the foster home where the girl is staying to give her a Merry Christmas. "What can I say, it was moving. It made my entire year. It really did. This little girl did so much more for me than I could ever do for her."
KTVU was asked by Child Protective Services to conceal the girl's identity, at least in part because her custody is in dispute. "She was just shocked. I walked away to go get the gifts and she said oh my goodness, I'm so excited. It couldn't have worked out better," said a very satisfied Morris.
The story has made the rounds in Livermore, and KTVU saw one young man come to police to give his Christmas money to the girl. "That is unbelievable. On behalf of the family, thank you very much," said Morris to the 9-year-old boy.
J.T. Davis had handed over $40. "I just felt so sad for her. I had to do something about it."
The presents weren't enough for police, so they started a gofundme page, which had raised more than $24,000 by Tuesday evening.
Officers are hoping to give the girl enough money to pay for her mother's funeral and her future schooling.