SPRING, Texas (KTRK) -- Like Santa's elves, they worked quickly and with joy. There's a Christmas spirit in the air on Terranova West Drive. While a family has suffered a tragedy, their neighbors are here to light their way home.
"Hey, it's Christmas, we need lights and they come with three tubs," said D'Artagnan Eillott, a teen volunteer and neighbor.
Dany and Karen Palomo were visiting family in El Salvador with their two children for the holidays. On the beach, Dany got caught in a riptide and drowned. The family will be returning with an empty hole in their hearts and not the same home.
"Shocking. I can't imagine what they are going through or what they felt like. I just wanted to do something for them," said Chambie Elliott, a classmate of one of the children who lost their dad.
Her mother Diane said, "The worst thing we could think of was them driving up alone on Christmas. We said, 'Why don't we just light their house up at Christmas and show them we love them.'"
Neighbors said the family is very involved in the community. Dany's company remodeled countless homes on the street, and they say he was always ready to help.
"A plumber, he'd come in the middle of the night and take care of things," Diane said. "He's a hero, especially to his family."
Friends from the neighborhood, Klein ISD, students and teachers from Strack Intermediate and those who just wanted to help grabbed lights, climbed ladders and inflated decorations.
"We wanted it to be great. We want the family to feel like they're supported and they're not alone. Can we get that across was the question , and I think the answer is yes," D'Artagnan said.
The Palomos are expected home Christmas Day, and the lights will be a complete surprise to the children. They never expected a holiday homecoming without their husband and father, but those here to help want to make sure and shine some beautiful, colorful light on the dark and difficult days ahead.
"When they drive up, I just want them to feel loved. To see how many people came together for them. Our arms are wrapped around them," Diane said.
You can help the Palomo family by donating to their GoFundMe account.
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Father's sudden death sparks outpouring of support in Spring
ACT OF KINDNESS