LENOX — Christmas came early this year for a single mother of six, courtesy of four kind-hearted roofers and the kindness of strangers.
For nearly six hours on Sunday, Jeff Smith and his employees Alan Halverson, Joe Amlaw and Michael Moran replaced the deteriorating, tarp-covered roof — unlikely to last another winter — with a long-lasting metal one on the split-level ranch home owned by Cindy Sample.
Smith and his wife, Julie, co-own Al Smith Gutters & Roofing in Lenox Dale, about a half a mile down the road.
"For two years I noticed [the tarp] and wanted to stop by and give the owner an estimate," Halverson said.
"That roof was leaking severely," Smith said. "A blue tarp does not a roof make."
A disabled Navy veteran and widow of two years, Sample lives with all but one of her sons and daughters on Housatonic Street — including a 5-year old son with autism.
"It felt good to have people in the community help me," she said. "It's been really hard and frustrating."
The frustration stems from Sample's insurance company's refusal to pay for a new roof as the old one started to buckle in some spots, shortly after her husband died in March 2014. She then reached out to several veterans, housing and social service organizations, with United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County finally setting in motion a sudden outpouring of support to help the Sample family.
UCP recently established a GoFundMe page, which within two days raised $3,400 toward the purchase of materials for the project if a contractor could donate the labor. Halverson and Amlaw saw the posting and immediately went to their bosses who didn't hesitate to cover the entire cost, estimated at just over $18,000, according to Jeff Smith.
"We needed to get behind these guys and support them," said Julie Smith. "[All four] gave up their Sunday to be on someone lese's roof — that's a big deal."
"It's almost a true Christmas miracle," she added.
UCP officials say the money raised through GoMeFund will help Sample during the holidays and with some household bills.
Sample thanked Lyndsey Johnson, her son's UCP therapist, for alerting the agency bosses to the family's plight. Melissa Guyer from the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services and Linda Cernik with Berkshire Community Action Coalition also provided assistance, according to UCP Executive Director Salvatore Garozzo.
"This was truly a community collaborative project and each participant took the perspective of what is in the best interest of the family and the kid," Garozzo said.
"I'm thankful for Lyndsey and Sal and all the people that helped me out at UCP and all the people that made donations," Sample said.
Jeff Smith noted some final touch-up work is needed, but Sample and her children have a leak-free roof over their heads.
One problem: Santa's sleigh and eight tiny reindeer may have a hard time next week on the shiny, metal covering designed to keep snow from building up.
"Nothing is going to stick to that roof," Jeff Smith said. "Not even people."