It’s been a disaster since the Lawrence family moved to Glendale almost three months ago.
First a hospital visit brought a hefty medical bill, then sentimental Christmas decorations were destroyed, and two weeks ago someone stole the $800 car the family bought with the last of their savings. It had two car seats in the back.
“Right now is the worst possible time,” said Shannon Lawrence, who moved with her husband and two daughters from Charlottesville, Va., at the end of October. “Right now we are going through the trenches.”
But the Lawrence family’s bad luck streak is beginning to wane.
Stirred by their story, Glendale police personnel and their families showed up at the family’s apartment Saturday bearing food and dozens of Christmas gifts. Earlier, police brought a Christmas tree and decorations.
“It was above and beyond,” Lawrence said. “You never think you’d be part of a Christmas miracle. I don’t know what we would have done.”
The family moved to Glendale so Lawrence could pursue her dream of acting. She knew her chances were slim, but she wanted to try.
“I wanted to show my girls that success is not defined by how much money you make,” said the 26-year-old. “Success is defined by making a promise to yourself and keeping it.”
It took time to convince her husband, Adam, to make the move. His family told the couple that Los Angeles was a “horrible, dangerous place,” Lawrence said. They picked Glendale because of its safe reputation.
Then on Dec. 14, her husband left the house to head to work at Whole Foods in Tustin around 3:30 a.m. But the family’s green 1992 Saturn was missing.
“I don’t understand how someone can steal a car with two car seats in the back 10 days before Christmas,” Lawrence said.
Officer Rebecca Lopez responded to the call. She noticed the apartment didn’t have a Christmas tree. Lawrence told her the family was scraping by and couldn’t afford one. If they could get a small tree, the plan was to convert toys into ornaments.
Lopez asked the Police Department if they’d help buy Christmas gifts for the family. The community pitched in and gave food, a tree and car seats, too.
Lawrence sometimes catches her daughters, Adelai, 4, and Harlow, 2, hugging the tree.
“I love it,” Adelai said.
During their first night in Glendale, Harlow, who suffers from severe asthma, had trouble breathing. The family has yet to pay off the hospital bill. On top of that, their Christmas decorations had been mistakenly tossed away back in Virginia.
Lawrence’s friend Jen Lilley, an actress on the soap opera “General Hospital,” also wanted to help. She sent an email to the cast describing the family’s plight. On Wednesday, a cast member gave them a 2008 Chevy Tahoe. Plus, police found the Saturn.
“You get to a point where you just have no words,” Lawrence said.
As Adelai and Harlow dug through a present filled with popcorn, Jell-O and gummy bears, Lawrence wiped away tears.
“You forget how much goodness is still out there,” she said.