It’s an emotional story of immense loss and thoughtful generosity. Julio Martinez evacuated from Puerto Rico with his family after Hurricane Maria in October, 2017. With his pregnant wife, Viviana, and their young daughter, he came to stay with family in Mount Dora. After settling into their own small apartment with just clothes in a suitcase and a couch salvaged from the street, a caring apartment manager contacted Mount Dora Police Department’s (MDPD) Community Resource Officer, Ivy Severance, to inquire about assistance.
What came next was an avalanche of help. Severance assisted the Martinez family in finding essentials for their apartment and settling into their new life in Mount Dora. What seemed like a relatively happy ending, however, eventually took a tragic turn. Viviana became seriously ill and was hospitalized while visiting Puerto Rico. A bacterial infection landed her in two hospitals on the island before she passed away just two weeks after her son, Angel, was born.
ABOVE: Officer Ivy Severance and Assistant Police Chief Bell with the Martinez children.
Martinez returned to Mount Dora with his newborn son, but has been struggling to raise the children, so MDPD decided to help create a special Christmas for the family.
On Wednesday the Martinez family arrived at MDPD headquarters to find an abundance of gifts picked especially for them waiting under the tree. The eyes of the shy 7-year old girl lit up after unwrapping a doll, art supplies, Barbie, and of course, a Mr. Potato Head. Her baby brother received clothes, a large toy dump truck and a police car, which will no doubt keep him busy.
The Martinez family is just one of the families MDPD has helped this holiday season. During their recent Shop with a Cop event, officers took thirty pre-selected children on a $100 shopping spree at Target.
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