EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — More than 8,500 Bergen County moms are on a mission to bring a cancer-stricken family from East Rutherford an unforgettable holiday.
Kristen Hajiantoniou said she was "hit with a double-bomb" when her 11-year-old daughter, Maria, was diagnosed with a brain tumor four months after her husband, Manolis, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.Annie Steinberg of Westwood wants to make it their best Christmas yet.
“We’ve got their backs,” said Steinberg, who founded the Bergen County Moms Facebook group.
Steinberg posted Monday night that she was turning her basement into a drop-off center for presents, clothing, gift cards and more for the Hajiantonious.
She awoke the next morning to more than 100 Facebook messages and dozens of phone calls. The family nurses, officials at the kids' schools, restaurant owners -- even strangers -- all offered love and aid.
Before long, more than 40 people had sent Steinberg tracking numbers for Amazon gifts, including a camera and iPad.
Pajamas and coloring books for Maria, along with Thomas the Tank Engine toys and bed sheets for her 2-year-old, brother, Yianni, were also being sought from anyone else who wants to help save the stricken family's Christmas.
"I did not realize how many people actually care," said Hajiantoniou, who's been caring for her husband and children becaise her family lives in Greece.
"The love and support I've gotten is overwhelming," she said through her tears. "I feel like someone cares. It's nice to feel like someone cares."
“There’s just something about this community,” said Steinberg, who last year adopted her cleaning lady’s family. “It’s real, Bergen County [people] who just have this sense of community and love.”
Steinberg has extended an open invitation to anyone who wants to help deliver the gifts to the Hajiantonious on Dec. 19. Members of a local church will be caroling outside.
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