MERIDEN — After going through tough times, the Felton family’s holiday spirit was restored with the help of the annual Spirit of Giving car parade.
“Saturday (December 18) was crazy, it was so amazing,” Kara Felton said . “Such a blessing.”
Spirit of Giving is a non-profit organization established to help Meriden families during the holiday season. Families chosen have experienced hard times and are helped with financial assistance or given toys, clothes and essential items collected throughout the year.
Hunter’s Ambulance’s Administrative Director Kevin Ferrarotti said this year the organization was able to help 20 families in total, including the Felton family, during the Dec. 18 caravan.
“To be able to give back to that many families in Meriden is pretty awesome,” Ferrarotti said. “...with everything going on with COVID, all the uncertainty in the community, to be able to continue this tradition.”
Julian Felton, 6 and Josiah Felton, 1 were both diagnosed with rare metabolic conditions, one of them being congenital generalized lipdystrophy, and a heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopothy. Because of this, the family has quarantined since March 2020, leaving only for hospital visits.
“[The diseases are] super complex, super rare,” their mom said. “The chances of being born with the lipodystrophy is 1 in 10 million. There are roughly 250 known cases worldwide.”
Felton does not work so she can stay home with the boys and home school her oldest. The family has had to miss out on all social gatherings since the beginning of the pandemic, for the safety of the children.
“It gets very hard to get out of the everyday routine that we have developed,” Felton said. “It has just been tough to get in the holiday spirit because life isn’t much different for us. [Spirit of Giving] brought so much holiday spirit in our home and hearts...”
The caravan included police officers, firefighters, ambulance workers, Maloney’s choir and other city residents who joined to help spread Christmas cheer.
Everyone dressed in holiday attire and accessories and traveled through the streets in buses and cars decorated with lights. The choir led Christmas carols.
Felton said she couldn’t stop crying tears of joy when the car parade showed up to her house with presents. Having the support of Spirit of Giving and the Meriden community meant everything to her family, she said.
“You forget there is good in the world,” Felton said. “There’s so much going on that is so negative, so bad, so scary. It is so easy to get caught up in that. When something like this happens, it’s just the best thing to remember that there is still so much good.”