A memorable Christmas, but for all the wrong reasons - FOX 13 News

A memorable Christmas, but for all the wrong reasons

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It wasn't the Christmas Day a Tampa family imagined, but they're comforted by the support of the community.

Two days ago, someone stole all of their presents, electronics and even the family dog, Honey.

But Tampa police, neighbors, friends and family at least made sure their Christmas was as close to normal as possible.

Melody Russell said her children, Marissa and Marcus, had a smile on their face Christmas morning, as they opened gifts like puzzles, toy cars, bubbles and basketballs.

Even though thieves tried to ruin it, they were able to spend Christmas like any other child.

"It's been stressful, but the amount of support from everyone has made it easier to deal with," Russell said.

Marcus loved his Spiderman video game and matching action figure, as well as the Ninja Turtle flying attack.

But missing from this Christmas celebration was Honey, the Shih Tzu that remains missing after the break-in. The kids remain heartbroken, Russell said.

"(Marcus) did wake up this morning, and we were saying we wish Honey was here, and he went to stare at her dog bowl and by her bed and said you know he wished he was here," she said.

Russell explained that dozens of people have reached out on Facebook, offering similar puppies. But Marissa and Marcus just want their Honey back.

"The children have decided to wait a while and see if we find her and get her back," she said. "But we might get her replaced, so they can have another buddy in the home."

Russell said she can't thank the Tampa Police Department enough. Along with trying to track down Honey, dispatchers and officers helped provide the gifts after hearing they were stolen. They also took up a cash collection from the neighborhood.

"I just really want to thank them. They really made the kids' day a lot better – for buying specifically what I wrote down and then some," Russell said.

She said it's a Christmas the family will never forget, for both good and bad reasons.

Police, meanwhile, continue their search for the family's dog.

Fox 13's Michael Shingleton contributed to this report.

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