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Wait, there's more: City police, others save Christmas

As much as tragedy and human frailty filled our newspaper pages in the year now ending, random acts of human kindness caught our attention as well. Sometimes, they were in the same story.

The one last week here in Manchester was among them.

"Christmas restored....and then some'' was the perfect headline for staffer Mark Hayward's report of the little things that a lot of people did to make up for a Grinch who tried to steal a family's Christmas.

The Grinch, perhaps with help, walked off with the wrapped presents of the family of Laurie Charest. As the police explained it, they had no clues as to who entered an unlocked basement of the multi-family dwelling on Somerville Street and made away with the loot.

Realizing the gifts were unlikely to be recovered, at least in time for Christmas morning, police officers on the case passed the hat. Soon, Manchester police unions, the Salvation Army, the Welfare Department, and Child and Family Services chipped in.

But, as the commercial says, wait, there's more.

When police officers went shopping for replacement gifts for the family, the local Sears, Target, and Market Basket stores gave them big discounts. Some store employees also made personal donations.

When Charest was called to the station community room, she said she thought she was going to recover a couple of the stolen gifts. Instead, she was greeted with two tables full of gifts, all wrapped.

Charest and her fiancee, Rudy Van Der Putten Jr., who are to be married on New Year's Day, have bigger challenges ahead. Rudy faces major cancer surgery.

But they do so knowing there are some wonderful people who had their backs at Christmas and whose good deeds made for a wonderful Christmas story in Manchester this year.

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