Family on hard times receives heartwarming response from locals

Many anonymous acts of kindness took place during the holidays, but one stood out among the rest, making it a memorable experience for both the givers and the receivers, when a group of good-hearted individuals from throughout Big Horn County, gave a family, new to the Lovell community, much needed assistance and the Christmas experience of a lifetime.

SantaHatColten and Sarah Day, their four young ones Jaden, 7, Payten, 3, Lane, 2 and baby Amberlynn, 6 months, and Sarah’s father Timothy Minor moved to Lovell on a “leap of faith” when Colten was offered a job with a local trucking company. Colten had lost his job in Texas and the family was already experiencing financial difficulties as a result.

“He got the job over the phone and we barely could scrape up the money to get here,” said Sarah. “We literally loaded up the vehicles with clothes and put everything else in storage.”

After Colten, a diesel mechanic and former Marine, lost his job in Stephenville, Texas, the family found themselves in almost immediate economic crisis. Desperate to find work, Colten expanded his search to Wyoming, where Sarah had lived some years before. The family, already strapped for cash, was not prepared for the fact that they wouldn’t be able to find housing right away and exhausted their resources, spending about $400 a week on a motel and $150 day on fast food. Sarah said they went through all their money quickly, which was mostly supplied by her father, who made the move with the family.

Sarah said their situation came to the attention of school resource officer Steve Coleman when he overheard her explaining to the Lovell Elementary School office staff that her son had not completed his homework because the family was so broke they couldn’t afford to buy him a pencil.

Touched by her story, Coleman offered to take Sarah to the store to buy food for her family. Sarah said she was hesitant but desperate to feed her family, especially baby Amberlynn, so she modestly accepted Coleman’s offer, which unbeknownst to her led to an outpouring of generosity by the entire sheriff’s dept., dispatch and jail staff, local firemen and others, who brought gifts, cash, gift cards and food to the family over a period of several days.

“This is the best Christmas we have ever had, thanks to the sheriff’s dept. and everyone else who helped us,” said Sarah. “It was especially wonderful for my son Lane, who celebrated his second birthday on Christmas day.”

The family is currently living in temporary housing provided by members of the Bible Church. They have since found permanent housing in Lovell.

From the school employee who quietly slipped Sarah a $100 bill to the entire sheriff’s dept. arriving with a trailer full of gifts and Santa, Sarah said the Colten family is overwhelmed by the generosity of the community.

“We were actually thinking of living in Cody before this happened,” said Sarah. “After this, I don’t think we can ever leave this wonderful community. We feel truly blessed to be here and we are very grateful for the help we have received from the people here.”

By Patti Carpenter