Pittsburg County rallies around grieving family

Thursday, December 22nd 2005, 10:02 am
By: News On 6

A Pittsburgh County family dealing with a tragic loss after a fatal wreck just days before Christmas got an overwhelming gift from the community Thursday, one that shows them they are not as alone as they might feel.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says they thought Christmas wouldn't come to the tiny house, now, so filled with grief. 37-year old Tina Dean, her car loaded with presents, ran off the highway and overturned in a pond. Taking her away, forever, from her five children.

Pittsburg County Undersheriff Richard Sexton: "They're definitely alone in the world and we really felt we needed to do something to help them.” So, working a little overtime as Santa's elves, Pittsburgh County Sheriff's deputies collected thousands of dollars worth of toys, food and clothes for a very special delivery.

Pittsburg County Undersheriff Richard Sexton: "It touches me, it touches other employees in this department to see what the people are coming forward and doing for this family."

The kids were a bit overwhelmed at first to see more gifts than the house could hold. But then they happily dove in.

At age 19, Heaven Sanders is the oldest and now the only mother the other kids have. "It's been hard. The toughest part is knowing that the kids aren't gonna have their mother, every one deserves a mom, but we're gonna do the best we can." But Heaven, with a child of her own and another on the way, is now without a mother too. "Well, I'm taking care of myself. But I can do it, I know I can. I will do it.”

For a single income family that's doubled in size overnight, times are sure to be tough, but for Heaven, keeping the kids together is all that matters. “I just want them to have a Merry Christmas and not have to think about the bad stuff that's went on." And if her Mom could see? "I know she's happy. She's probably proud of me. she is." And proud of the way total strangers are watching out for her children.

The family was also given $2,500 in cash, part of that money raised by a Muskogee teen that heard about the need and collected donations at his school.