CREATED Dec. 24, 2012
Reporter: Maggie Vespa
TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Is it a Christmas miracle, or just the sort of kindness we should show each other, each and every day?
Imagine this: you and your family return from an annual holiday outing, only to find your home has been burglarized. Your Christmas, in essence, has been stolen.
That's exactly what happened to one Tucson family, this weekend.
Less than 48 hours later, they say their faith in the holidays and in humanity is restored.
For most, starting your shopping on Christmas Eve would be stressful.
For Tiffiny Eppstein, it's an unbelievable blessing.
"I mean it's just been amazing. It's been amazing," she said.
It all started Saturday night. That's when Eppstein, her husband and four kids returned home from their wonderful Winterhaven outing and knew immediately, something was off.
"We noticed our back door was open, and the first thing my husband said was 'Where is all of our Christmas presents?'" she said.
Indeed, their gifts were gone. Eppstein says explaining the vicious violation to her children, ages 16 to 2, was heartbreaking.
"My older two understand more than the younger two that Christmas isn't about presents, and I'm always really big about telling my children not to be materialistic," she said.
But that explanation didn't do it for friends, extended family and, maybe most of all, Tucson police.
"All police officers and law enforcement communities see is the heartbreak," explained Community Service officer Tracy Kranz.
Within hours officers had stormed social media, determined to save this family's Christmas.
"It's just blossomed into a backseat full of toys and gifts for the family as well as $620 cash," said Kranz.
Factor in donations from friends, coworkers and so on; the grand total tops $1,000.
Monday, leaders of the fundraising effort met Eppstein at Target to escort her through the aisles.
"We have to work Christmas Eve," said Kranz. "We have to work Christmas Day, and it gives us that opportunity to say 'It was worthwhile to come to work today and give back to a family who desperately needs it."
For Eppstein, who worried what this ordeal would teach her kids about faith in others, this moment is the best gift of all.
"You see bad things happen every day, and you think 'Gosh, where is everyone's compassion and giving spirit?', and then this happened, and they showed yeah there is still compassion out there. I mean, times ten," she said. "It's wonderful."
Eppstein says the best part of all, is that her kids have no idea those donations have come pouring in.
She and her husband plan to wrap everything in secret and slip it under the tree, before they wake up on Christmas morning.