Community brings holiday joy through gifts and carols
By Jason Hawk
Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times
The Majkut clan shares hugs and smiles Sunday as it is surprised by a parade of well-wishers bearing presents. State troopers, firefighters, police, EMTs and tow operators were among those who drove a gift-laden convoy to the family’s Rt. 58 home.
Call it a Christmas miracle.
With lights flashing and sirens singing, a long line of emergency vehicles pulled up Sunday to the Majkut family home on Rt. 58 in Amherst Township.
The last time police, state troopers, firefighters, and paramedics raced to the home en masse was July 28 — and then it was in response to tragedy, as a driver careened off the road and into the house, killing 34-year-old Debra Majkut.
This time, they came bearing gifts with Santa Claus in the lead.
“I didn’t realize the enormity of all this until I saw it all come together,” said St. Nicholas. “It’s just a great, great thing. That’s what this season’s all about… It’s a wonderful experience. So touching.”
When pressed for his “real” name, he winked and said, “I really am Santa Claus.”
And why shouldn’t he be? With his arrival came a sleigh full of presents.
Sgt. Mike Murphy said the Amherst Fraternal Order of Police couldn’t resist the call to chip in and add to a huge pile of gifts. They gave Cleveland Cavaliers tickets, gear, toys, and children’s clothes.
Other gifts included a Christmas tree, video games, and a new television.
“This is all such a surprise,” said Debra Majkut’s sister, Kristina Thompson of Elyria, after sharing hugs with her nephews, infant Jaxon and seventh-grader Jacob Majkut. “We’re so very grateful.”
James Majkut hugged his two boys close, moved by the outpouring.
“I knew people were coming today but I didn’t know it was going to be all this,” he said, overwhelmed and searching for a way to handle it.
Describing himself as a very private person, he was uncomfortable with the attention but thankful and held a long hug with Kristi Gaetz, who organized the event.
Gaetz arrived just before the train of fire trucks and squad cars and described how the Majkuts’ faces lit up with shock.
The effort isn’t over — she’s still working to raise money for a compression mask, a piece of equipment that will help smooth the wrinkles of skin grafts on Jaxon’s face. The baby was severely burned by the undercarriage of the Toyota Camry that killed his mother.
Medical bills have grown over the past half-year. Much of the family’s needs, including the compression mask, aren’t covered by insurance, Gaetz said.
Sunday’s event showed there’s no shortage of friends new and old ready to help.
Among them was David Vaughn Sr. of Vaughn’s Towing. He and his son responded in July to the crash at the Majkut home, helping to pull the car free to rescue Jaxon.
“What a turnout today,” he said. “It shows that people really do care about each other.”
Sgt. Pablo Cruz of the Ohio State Highway Patrol echoed that sentiment: “What better could you show up for? This is Christmas right here. This is what it’s all about.”
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.