Not many families want a group of strangers to break into their home, but the Shirley family was more than happy to learn the elves at Virgin Radio’s broke into their home for their Break and Enter Christmas initiative which aimed to surprise one family in need with all the Christmas trimmings possible.
Angelina Shirley, mother of four, said The Break and Enter happened Dec. 15 while her family was out to dinner with her sister-in-law and brother.
“(The evening) seemed all normal at first,” Shirley said.
Unbeknownst to the family while they were out, Virgin radio employees stuffed over 300 presents under their tree, including Christmas meal prep from Mamaluv, $1,500 in cast, tickets to a hockey game, jerseys for the whole family and a family trip to Disney World in Orlando, FL.
Despite all the pre work going on in the background, Shirley said she had no idea anything special was going.
“Once the limo showed up I knew something was up,” she said.
After dinner, she said, Virgin Radio sent over a limo to take the Shirley’s home and even then she didn’t think twice.
“We just thought (my brother and sister-in-law) had just gotten it for us to drive home in,” Shirley said.
When they arrived back home, Shirley said, Santa, elves, Virgin morning show hosts, and CTV cameras greeted the family on a red carpet leading to their front door.
“I was shocked,” Shirley said. “ I didn’t know what to do or say.”
The family gave an interview, then inside to open their presents under the tree.
Shirley said that after they received the gifts, she learned three different people nominated the family for the initiative, adding the nominations were most likely given because of her twins’, Sadie and Ellie, medical problems.
“We had premature twin at 20 weeks in April,” Shirley said. “They said (Sadie) would have permanent brain damage… and then (Ellie’s) intestines burst. She coded there was given no hope for her.”
Shirley went on to say Ellie’s still in the hospital, and will probably stay there for at least another month, but she is pulling through nicely, despite the her original prognosis.
“We have a nine and seven year old as well,” Shirley said. “It’s been a balancing act between hospital and big kids and their activities.”
Shirley said that since the twins were born, she hasn’t been able to go back to work as she spends a lot of time at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary with her daughter.
“There’s definitely been that financial burden,” Shirley said.
In addition to abundance of gifts, she added that Virgin Radio also included $300 specifically for Alberta Children’s Hospital parking to make the back-and-forth easier on her.
But more than that, Shirley said watching her kids light up was the best Christmas present Virgin Radio gave her.
“(My kids) were so excited and overwhelmed,” Shirley said. “That it made my kids’ Christmas — our Christmas. It wasn’t looking very bright but they made a miracle happen.”
Shirley went on to say the family donated some of the presents to charity because they felt they were given just too many.
Chad Martin, program director at Virgin Radio, said he was touched by the support the Shirley’s had from those who nominated them.
“The Shirley’s have obviously had a very difficult year, and any parent or family, could empathize with what they have gone through and their need for a bit of relief,” Martin said. “The support from their friends and neighbors in Airdrie is truly the essence of Christmas spirit.”
The contest started Nov. 10 and ended Dec. 14. Virgin said they had a total had a total of 390 nominations.