Christmas came for the Rodriguez family a day early because of Michael Saavedra of Miami Beach Fire Rescue, who organized firefighters to help. Saavedra, parents Aymara and Hande Rodriguez, and their children Hander and Abigail spoke about what it meant.
Firefighters brought surprise Christmas gifts to a southwest Miami-Dade family on Monday, a day after their home went up in flames.
Sunday morning’s fire completely destroyed the Rodriguez family’s home on the 15200 block of SW 184th Street – including unopened Christmas presents.
“They get attached to their things, you know, what they're used to, and just to see it all gone like that, you know? They were really sad, but today, they’re very happy,” mother Aymara Rodriguez said of her children.
Christmas came for them a day early because of Michael Saavedra of Miami Beach Fire Rescue, who said he had just come off a long shift when his young daughter showed him the Rodriguez family’s story on television.
It didn't take Saavedra long to organize his crew and Miami-Dade firefighters to help.
“I immediately forgot how tired I was and I called all the people from Miami Beach and from Walgreens on 41st Street, and they just donated stuff, and it was amazing,” he said.
On Sunday 13-year-old Hander Rodriguez raced to rescue his sleeping father Hande, as well as his grandfather and his 7-year-old sister, Abigail.
“I didn't expect it to happen,” he said of Monday’s visit by firefighters, who arrived along with Santa on a Miami Beach fire engine. “I thought we were going to remain with nothing, and then when I saw all of this come, it got me sentimental.”
Abigail may have been the most surprised. She thought she made Santa's naughty list this year.
She said she’s feeling better now.
The family of five is staying with relatives, as the American Red Cross pitches in with food and clothing.
Hande Rodriguez was so humbled by the outpouring of support from family, friends, strangers and firefighters that he struggled to find words.
“I don't know, I don't know how to explain this, this is gorgeous, man,” he said. “God is great.”