HOLLIDAYSBURG - Larry Snyder's grandchildren knew their grandfather loved decorating his home for Christmas, and when an accident robbed him of the chance to do so, they took matters into their own hands.
Snyder was injured in April when his right hand was crushed while at work for Watco Companies. He lost his thumb and has limited mobility in his hand.
His grandchildren, Mackenzie and James Grove, wrote to Froggy 98 and Forever Broadcasting in hopes of getting some help from the station's Christmas Carol program.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Hollidaysburg American Legion Ambulance Service first responder Bill Sprow (on ladder) hangs Christmas lights with some help from paramedic/crew chief Rob Craig at the home of Larry and Mary Snyder on Monday afternoon on Loop Road in Hollidaysburg.
"This year he cannot [put] up his Christmas decorations and this is something he really likes to do and it's worrying him," the kids wrote. "If you could find someone to help him, it would make his Christmas much happier, and it would really make a better Christmas for us, too."
Froggy selected 12 families, and Snyder didn't make the cut, which was "a heartbreak" to the family, his wife, Mary, said.
However, the family's story reached the Hollidaysburg American Legion Ambulance Service, and on Monday Snyder found himself directing a group of volunteers from the service as they hung lights and arranged decor.
His injured hand tucked safely in an oven mitt, Snyder made sure the yearly decorations were put up according to his specifications.
"I really appreciate it," he said. "I've never had anything like this."
The ambulance service seeks to do a "unique" service project each year around the holidays to help local families, said Rodney Estep, the service's acting executive director.
He said his wife, Nicole, suggested they take a look at the letters that didn't make the cut for the Christmas Carol program to see if anyone in the service's coverage area needed help.
They picked three families, including the Snyders, Estep said.
"A lot of people are rejected, but it doesn't mean they're less worthy of some help," he said.
Estep and the rest of the crew headed out to the Snyders' home on Loop Road in a procession of emergency vehicles. A garage full of Christmas decorations was quickly unloaded. Ladders went up to hang lights from the roof, and plastic decorations were arranged in the yard.
Snyder's grandchildren were on-hand to help with the decorating. He said he had "no idea" they'd planned this for him until Friday, when he learned the ambulance service was coming.
Mary Snyder said that she and her husband had worked to put window clings and other decorations in the windows over the past week, but they were letting the ambulance service do the heavy lifting. Larry Snyder had gone in for the fourth surgery on his hand shortly before the decorations went up, and doctors have said his hand will need years of healing.
She said it was hard to articulate how it felt to have the ambulance service step in to make sure her husband's beloved decorations make it up.
"It's just overwhelming," she said. "I didn't expect this."