TAMPA - The home is beautiful, filled with leather furniture, a grand armoire, bedroom sets for the master and spare room, new kitchen appliances and dishes. Then there is the Christmas tree, full of presents underneath.
But, this home is a gift in itself. A gift of love for Cyndi Sims.
Sims walked in to her new home, in a real Tampa-style home make over. Tears gushing from her eyes. "Wow it's beautiful it's beautiful!" she exclaimed.
The tears of joy and feelings of disbelief filled Cyndi as she walked through her new house. A new house made possible thanks to the efforts that began with one woman: Lisa Haag.
Haag had met Sims at church. Lisa reached out to church members and then to others throughout the community she didn't even know, in hopes of giving Cyndi the gift of a better life.
"I think I am so touched at the amount of generosity from complete strangers just based on what I told them," Lisa said.
Lisa told them her friend Cyndi was a single mother and grandmother who took in her daughter and her grandchildren, 8-year-old Devon and 5-year-old Elizabeth because they were homeless
Lisa also told them that Cyndi never bought one thing for herself and her old apartment was filled with items broken or so old, they really couldn't be used.
She then explained Cyndi wanted a better home for her family and home she could be proud of: Cyndi was overwhelmed with emotion.
"I have never had new furniture in my life and god wanted to give me this, I don't deserve this."
Cyndi did not feel she was deserving, because years ago she was addicted to drugs. But she managed to save herself and has been clean for 15 years.
Lisa felt, this time, It was Cyndi who deserved the break.
"It is so much better than giving gifts," Lisa said. "It is what we did for our family instead of gifts this year, we decided to this for Cyndi and it is way better than any gift I have ever received."
A gift Cyndi will cherish this holiday and for every holiday to come.
"I won't be ashamed anymore to have anyone come visit," Cyndi said.
Forty five individual donors and corporations contributed to Cyndi's new home, a new apartment that is larger and fully furnished thanks to people's genersoity.
To add to it, Cyndi was sent to a hotel room for the weekend so Lisa and the others could work on the surprise.
"God truly is good, I am so grateful," a joyful Cyndi said.
Copyright (c) 2009 HGTV and Scripps Howard News Service
A 4-year-old Pasco County boy is dead. According to family members, doctors suspect he contracted bacterial meningitis, He started showing symptoms Saturday night.