HARRIMAN - A family that has fallen on hard times is finding the true spirit of Christmas is present, despite recent tragedies.
Louie and Helen Tammaro have been watching the devastation unfold in Gatlinburg.
“It’s devastating to see how it swept through several areas and took everything in its path,” said Helen. "We were feeling the pain for those people.”
While visiting Gatlinburg on Sunday afternoon, the family learned their home in Harriman was burning.
They'd gone to Gatlinburg with good intent.
"We decided going to Gatlinburg and spending some money there would help support their economy and recovery from fire and would be a good Christmas thing to do,” said Helen.
So they were shocked to find the destruction awaiting them. Pieces of their lives now were charred.
"It’s really impossible to imagine what that feels like 'til it happens to you,” said Helen.
However, the things that mattered most to the couple survived: letters between Louis' parents as his father fought in the Korean War, and baby clothes from Helen’s twin girls.
And perhaps the most treasured items: photographs of Louis' son Louis II.
“The feeling is not anything like when you hear that your son has been killed,” said Louis.
Louis Jr. was 31 when he was shot and killed in 2014 in Cumberland County by his ex-girlfriend.
It’s his memory that’s giving the Tammaros the encouragement to press forward.
“My son was always positive, anyone who knew him, knew he was a positive gift to humanity,” said Louis.
“He saw the best in any situation, so we try to continue that legacy and life the way he did,” said Helen.
With the help of loved ones, they are finding that the true hope of Christmas shines through no matter what.
“We’ve had a huge outpouring of support from family, friends, coworkers and complete strangers," said Helen. “As horrible as it is, it’s a reminder that there is good left in the world, it’s not all bad.”
The Tammaros did find out they are underinsured.
If you'd like to help them, you can donate through a gofundme, set up by their daughter.