A South Jersey family who spent months homeless and living in a hotel received a new home from a generous family in Mickleton, New Jersey.
- A Christmas story in late March that starts with an extraordinary holiday light display in Mickleton in Gloucester County and ends with a new lease on life for a family in Camden. Action News community journalist Ashley Johnson has the story.
- We're going to have you sit on the couch in front of the Christmas tree.
- This was the moment leading up to the surprise of a lifetime. Noreen Owens and her seven children, riding in style, but little did they know.
NOREEN OWENS: It was really a big surprise.
- They were gifted with the key to their new home.
- So this is a gift.
- It was emotional for the South Jersey family, who had been homeless for months, living in a motel.
- Just expression on their face, like that's something that was so priceless. I can never repay-- I can never repay them for what they did for us.
- Owens is the shining example that good things happen to good people. While she was worried about providing for her own children, she never stopped helping others. It's how she connected with Steve Harbaugh, who runs the popular Griswold's of New Jersey Light Display.
GINA HARBAUGH: She was so selfless to reach out for someone else, and in fact, she was one that really needed some help herself.
STEVE HARBOUGH: We were able because of the financial donations that we had this year take it to the next level.
- The light display also serves as a toy drive. This year, the family collected $12,000 in toys. Steve donated many of those toys to Owens for Operation Warm Hugs.
- The passion is the same as mine.
- The Harbaugh's Christmas lights raised nearly $40,000 in financial donations. They're using the money to pay for rent and the utilities at the Camden home for a year.
CHARISH OWENS: And we meet new friends, and the house is awesome.
ASHLEY JOHNSON: Both families look forward to building on their relationship. The Mickleton, New Jersey family says, Noreen will be a big part of their toy drive next year, connecting them with outreach programs in Camden.
CHAYLSE OWENS: God wasn't taking me through the experience. It was a learning experience.
- Lessons and many blessings. In Camden, Ashley Johnson, Channel 6 Action News.