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CHESTERFIELD, Virginia — An entire community rallied to give a 4-year-old girl a taste of the holidays after doctors told her family she likely wouldn't live to see Christmas Day.
Virginia Rose Vandermark was diagnosed with leukemia back in April. Due to multiple setbacks and complications, her doctors gave her parents a grim prognosis by the fall: If Virginia managed to live until Christmas, it would be the last one they'd be able to celebrate with their daughter, according to Today.
So Jennifer and Jonathan Vandermark decided that if this was the last Christmas they'd get with their little girl, they were going to make it count. After a little brainstorming, they came up with a plan to celebrate Christmas every weekend leading up to Dec. 25.
"Unless there is a Christmas miracle for her, this is her last one with us and we are trying to give her as many as we can," Jonathan Vandermark told ABC News.
The Vandermarks used Facebook and social media to spread the word to family and friends in October, but much to their surprise, what began as a simple idea quickly exploded into a community celebration.
"As soon as the neighbors found out, they leaped into action," Vandermark said.
Days after the Vandermarks posted their idea, buildings, homes, trees and signs in their town of Chesterfield were dressed up in bright holiday lights, all in the name of little Virginia Rose, according to Today. A community fence even bore her name in lights, so she'd know it was all for her.
"We have been overwhelmed with the love they pour on us," Vandermark said.
Chesterfield resident Renee Trivisonno had never met Virginia Rose or her parents, but was so moved by their story that she decided to join the effort by bringing a Christmas party and fundraiser to the Vandermarks' doorstep over the weekend, ABC reports.
"It had to be done," Trivisonno said. "My husband and I felt so strongly that we needed to come together to show this family some love and support. Right here at Christmastime that is, to us, the true meaning of Christmas; when you have love, you need to give love."
About 50 people showed up at the Vandermark home on Friday for the "Caroling and Cards for Virginia Rose" event, Today reports. Santa himself pulled up into the family driveway in a red Mustang convertible, while Virginia Rose squealed on the front lawn.
The carolers came armed with decorations and $800 in gift cards to stores like Walmart and Toys 'R' Us.
"To see the joy in the kids' faces, to hear the singing in the yard and to see the community coming together to love on Virginia Rose was very emotional," Vandermark told ABC. "This daddy had to choke back the tears."
The giving hasn't stopped. All month, gifts and packages have been dropped off for Virginia Rose and her brothers. Donors have pumped nearly $12,000 into a GoFundMe account for the family — money the Vandermarks plan to use for funeral expenses, according to Today.
The Vandermarks say they've been completely overwhelmed by the response they've received.
"The two words — 'thank you' — are not adequate enough to describe our appreciation, but from the bottom of our hearts, thank you," Vandermark said. "Virginia is joy. She spreads joy everywhere she goes and with everyone she meets. This fight has been extremely difficult, but in the worst of circumstances we have seen the best in others."