Family finds gifts from ‘Heaven’s Helpers’

Blue plastic tub full of Christmas presents complete surprise for couple

Monica Stark grudgingly woke up at her husband’s request Tuesday morning.

Gary Stark had walked outside the family’s home, located in the 2600 block of Mayfair Drive, and found a blue plastic tub full of gifts that appeared to be either hastily wrapped or wrapped by children. Labels on most of the packages say the presents are from “Heaven’s Helpers” or “God’s Helpers.” Wanting to share his find, Gary Stark woke his wife.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Monica Stark said. “We’ve been through a lot as a family, and Christmas was going to be tough, but we were going to manage. We just feel so blessed and just have no idea who could have done this.”

Monica Stark said in 2000, she and her husband both lost their jobs. Gary Stark was a computer programmer and has since taken a job in Shawnee. Monica Stark said not long after the job losses she became pregnant with twins. The boys, who are now 3, came two months early. She also said there were a couple of times they were nervous about losing their family home.

“It was just one thing after another for us,” Monica Stark said.

Money for the Starks has been tight lately, but they have managed. While she has a degree in applied science, Stark is taking classes she needs to get into a medical school.

Monica Stark said her family didn’t sign up for gifts with any social service organizations. She said friends were aware of the Starks’ financial situation, but most knew they had found ways to make sure their children would have a Christmas.

“This whole thing just gives me chills,” she said. “I never doubted that the Christmas spirit was alive and well. But this is just amazing.”

In addition to not saying who the presents were from, the labels didn’t include any of the names of the Stark children — Cortlynn, 7, and twins Alex and Devin. That only added to the mystery. The labels instead said to “A special girl” or “cool boys.” The tub they arrived in did have some names on it scribbled out, but Monica Stark said she didn’t know anyone by those names.

Cortlynn said she and her brothers noticed the packages while watching cartoons and asked her mom about them.

“I just told her they were from people doing God’s work,” Monica Stark said. “There’s just no other way to explain it.”

The mystery surrounding the presents enthralled the children for the better part of Tuesday. The three asked their mother whether they could open the gifts. But Monica Stark remained steadfast in her answer: They have to wait until Christmas with the possibility of opening one each on Christmas Eve.

“I just know this won’t be a Christmas we forget anytime soon,” she said.