Community outpouring stuns family in need (Video)

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Dec. 22, 2012 at 6:22 a.m.
Updated Dec. 23, 2012 at 6:23 a.m.

On the family table sat a pile of holiday cards from a Victoria private school.

Next to that was a box of caramel sweets from a Catholic church.

A glimmer of disbelief filled the Lane family's eyes, looking at the pile of gifts nestled under their tree.

Gifts and donations from communities across the Crossroads and the nation have ended up on the Lane family's doorstep by what Samuel Lane Jr. described as a Christmas miracle.

"It makes me feel so much better knowing the girls are going to have a Christmas," the father said.

Earlier this year, Lane's doctor told him he had only six months to live because of complications from congestive heart failure.

Three weeks ago, the Advocate shared a poem by the Lane's four daughters wanting help to pay for their father's funeral for Christmas instead of gifts. Since then, an outpouring of generosity has flowed into the Lane's home a few blocks down from St. Joseph High School.

The Hospice of South Texas is one of many stepping forward to help, providing the Lane family with its services since late November.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Lane still has a life-limiting illness," said Meredith Alcantar, director of clinical services. "Hopefully, through the education and support of Hospice of South Texas, we will make the days he has left the best they can be for him and his family."

The funeral expenses for the father also have been taken care of, said funeral director Larry Tarrent with Grace Funeral Home.

"In my 25 years in the business, I've never seen an outpouring like this before," Tarrent said. "Especially for someone who is still alive."

Maria Lane said their estimated funeral costs were about $8,000 - all of which was covered by community donations.

"This really says something about Victoria," Tarrent said. "I've seen several dozen people stop by to make donations."

The director said the staff has been overwhelmed with interested donors and requested that donations be made directly to the Lanes.

"We've been keeping track of what's been coming in," Tarrent said. "We're waiting for the family to pick up the rest of the excess donated."

Through other cash and check donations, the Lanes' rent has been paid through March.

"The housing authority put us on hold for an apartment that we can move into after Sam dies," the mother said. "It's unbelievable what blessings have come to us."

The family has been overwhelmed with Christmas trees, a candlelight dinner, family holiday photos, at least 20 Christmas gifts for each of their four teenage daughters and more.

"It's just been amazing," the mother said. "I've been trying to figure out how to thank everyone all week."

As the family talked about their gratitude, they had the gas stove top on full blast in response to the recent cold fronts.

A cluster of appliances took up most of the space in their kitchen. A sign in the hallway asked for guests with children to pick up after themselves.

While the Lanes are certainly undergoing a period of transition as they await their father's imminent death, they can't help but smile at the gifts brought to them by an army of strangers.

Leslie Lane, 12, said while she was teased by school mates at Patti Welder Magnet Middle School when the news first got out, she found support in other places.

"They made fun of my dad," Leslie said. "But I also had friends who said they would cry with me if I needed to."

The Advancement Via Individual Determination program at her school raised about $400 to help her parents buy Christmas gifts for all four of their daughters.

"I've never had so many presents before," Leslie said. "I can't wait to open them."

A silver necklace with a heart-shaped locket was wrapped around her neck.

On the back of the locket, an engraved message read, "Forever in my heart, Love Daddy."

An identical locket was given to the four other girls by the Victoria Police Officers' Association and Blue Santa Program , who arrived at the Lanes' doorsteps days after the Advocate's article was published.

"I thought I was going to be left alone here," Maria Lane said. "But now I know I'm not alone."

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