Workers save Christmas for granddaughter

SMOKEY POINT – Clarence is to Jimmy Stewart in "It's A Wonderful Life" as Carrie Viig and Beth Nordine are to Sherrill Swallow in real life.

Isabella Swallow is surrounded by gifts given to her by employees of the IHOP at Smokey Point. The workers 'adopted' her for the holiday because her mom and grandmother are struggling financially.

SMOKEY POINT – Clarence is to Jimmy Stewart in “It’s A Wonderful Life” as Carrie Viig and Beth Nordine are to Sherrill Swallow in real life.

“They saved Christmas for my granddaughter” Isabella, Swallow said Dec. 26.

Swallow went to the IHOP at Smokey Point a few weeks ago because they give free meals to children. Strapped for cash, Swallow asked how much she needed to spend to get the free meal. General Manager Viig not only gave them a meal, she also asked if the restaurant could “adopt” Isabella and give her Christmas gifts this year.

All of the workers pitched in, and on Christmas Eve Isabella, 3 1/2, received a bunch of clothes and toys.

Swallow was in shock.

“It’s like what you see in the movies,” she said. “People are not like that, not usually. She has a whole wardrobe now.”

Swallow said she survives on $231 a month in disability, and what her daughter, Auna Rose, brings home from her retail job.

“We really have nothing. We had zero for Christmas. We’re frugal, and everything’s falling apart,” Swallow said.

She said she was surprised at how caring and happy the people are at the IHOP.

“Maybe because it’s rural, not such a big town,” she said.

Swallow said she is extra appreciative of Viig, who is making trips back and forth to Portland, Ore., to see her father, who is on hospice.

“She focused on us even though her dad was dying,” Swallow said, adding Hostess Ambassador Nordine helped when Viig wasn’t available.

Even though Swallow doesn’t have much, she decided to pay it forward to help IHOP. Auna Rose, 22, collected 43 pounds at a food drive at her work. They didn’t know where to donate it.

When Swallow saw a cardboard drum asking for donations at IHOP, she decided, “This is where I want to donate the food.”

“With all the negative going on in the world today, I feel this is such a wonderful act of kindness,” Swallow said. “It has restored my faith in mankind. It has given me hope in life.”

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