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Community Pitches in, Sends Chester Family to Holiday Show 

A flurry of reader generosity sent one family to Lewis Ginter.

A flurry of reader feedback and generosity has come on the heels of a Dec. 16 Style Weekly story about a class on thriftiness during the holidays, held at the Virginia Cooperative Extension offices in the Chesterfield County government complex.

Linda Bass, 62, a student in Linda Jackson Cole's Dec. 10 financial management class, confided to other students that her holiday wish — and her saving goal for 2010 — was to attend Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden's annual GardenFest of Lights. “I just want to be able to go once,” she said.

Shortly after the story was published, Bass received several phone calls from people in the community offering tickets for her and family members attend the light show. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden also called, but Beth Monroe, Lewis Ginter's director of public relations and marketing, was beaten to the punch. So the garden gave Bass a complimentary one-year family membership instead.

But the people kept on giving. Bass says she received a Christmas card with $40 inside “from Santa Claus.” Another gentleman who offered tickets, after learning that she'd received them, was persistent.

“About an hour later, the man's wife was at the door,” Bass says, with “a $150 gift card to buy gifts for my grandkids.”

“I don't know who the family is,” she adds. “I was just absolutely blown away. I was crying, she was crying. It was beautiful.”

On Dec. 22, Bass says, five generations of her family — including her wheelchair-bound mother; Bass's daughter; one of Bass's granddaughters and one of her grandsons; and her infant great-granddaughter — arrived at the botanical garden to take in the show. “I was like a kid in a candy store,” Bass says. “It was absolutely breathtaking.”

Of the unexpected chain of events, Bass says she's “still thinking about it.”

“Christmas is over. But this is an experience I'm not going to forget for a while,” she says. “Please give my thanks for everybody.”

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