CLEARWATER, Fla. — ABC Action news featured Pierre Fitzpatrick in a story about low-wage workers navigating high prices in Tampa Bay, last week.
In the story, the single father said he would not be able to give his three kids the Christmas they hoped for on his $11 per hour wage.
“I tried to explain to them that it should be better next year," he said. "Hopefully we will get on our feet and I will try to do what I can.”
Immediately after the story aired, Amber McDowell took to her Dunedin Moms Facebook group and asked if anyone else had seen Fitzpatrick's story.
"I never expected it to get this big," she said. "All I was trying to do was help him decorate his tree."
Other members of the group flooded the comments, offering any help they could provide. Decorations, gifts, even clothes for Fitzpatrick's children.
"I was shocked," Fitzpatrick said. "I was like, 'Already? It hasn't even been 24 hours.'"
On Sunday, McDowell and other members of the group pulled up to the Fitzpatrick's front lawn with a haul. They came armed with boxes of Christmas decorations and goodies to enjoy the entire holiday season.
"You just really got to us," McDowell told Fitzpatrick after the two met for the first time. "I was sitting there looking at my tree, and then I saw yours."
"It's a blessing," Fitzpatrick said. "I don't even know what to say, but I'm happy."
"I don't have much, but I'm fortunate enough to have a lot of family so my kids end up having a good Christmas," McDowell said. "I just wanted to try to help another family have a good Christmas. That's all."
For the single father from Cleveland trying to climb out of a hole dug by COVID, a little bit of "good" goes a long way.
"You don't see a lot of single dads out there trying to get by taking care of their kids like he is," McDowell said. "It just touched my heart to see that."
On Sunday, after his guests left, Fitzpatrick took time to decorate the Christmas tree with his kids. Each ornament serves as a thank you to his new friends in Dunedin that made not only his Christmas, but a whole lot more.
"It just shows there's a lot of good people," he said. "There's a lot of good people out here."
McDowell tells ABC Action News there is more in store for the Fitzpatricks. The Dunedin group has gathered furniture and TVs for the family they plan to drop off, this weekend.
If you would also like to help out the Fitzpatricks this holiday season, McDowell asks you to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.