Christmas is a day to be with the ones you love, but for some, getting home for the holidays can be close to impossible. There are hundreds of handicapped people in South Mississippi who have special transportation needs. That's whey American Medical Response started a free service called "Home For The Holidays," so people like Melody Holliman can be with their families on this special day.
Libby and J.C. Holliman raised 8 kids in their Long Beach home. They said their youngest, Melody, is the glue that holds this happy family together. Every Christmas they shower her with gifts.
"New ring, new bracelet, two watches, keyboard, hand lotion, perfume and one teddy bear!" exclaimed Melody.
Sharing the joy of Christmas together would be tough without the generosity of a local ambulance service. AMR offers a free shuttle service for people like Melody. It's called "Home for the Holidays."
Melody's Mom, Libby Holliman said, "I appreciate it. We couldn't have done it without them."
Warren Hewes with AMR said, "we want to give something back to the community and they're the ones that support us , so if we can give a little bit of back, it's good for us and good for them too."
A long day filled with food, fun and time with family ends with a picture of Christmas 2003.
Since Christmas 2003 can't last forever, Melody looks forward to her ride back to school, and to next year.
In the new year, the Hollimans won't have to depend on AMR to see Melody. They'll have their own handicap accessible van. A man who recently lost his wife wanted Melody to have it and wouldn't accept a penny in return.
Melody's mom said, "they have made this my happiest holiday ever, and I'd like to thank them from the bottom of my heart."
Melody is thankful every time AMR driver Warren Hewes gives her a ride--and he doesn't even mind when she tells him how to drive..
"Yep, I'm a good back seat driver," Melody said.
And back to school she goes with about a dozen new Christmas presents and countless Christmas memories.
AMR has donated the free transportation service to special needs patients on Christmas Day since 1994.