A family’s holiday bake sale to benefit the Easton Emergency Medical Service did more than raise money. It filled the family and their patrons with holiday spirit and showed them that Easton is a wonderful town.

Ariana Tsirakidis, 10, baked all day on Saturday to prepare for the sale with help from her siblings T.J. and Matthew. They never imagined how generous their customers would be. Even though the temperatures were in the low 30s with a significant wind chill, many Easton residents braved the cold weather and sales steadily increased throughout the morning on Sunday.

Santa, Mrs. Claus and an elf paid a visit, along with EMS Chief Jon Arnold, and crew members. Many community members stopped by to purchase treats and make a donation. By the time the sale ended at noon, it had netted $1,000 for the EMS. The generous response made it well worth the effort to weather the elements and and give back to their town, Lana Tsirakidis said.

“We moved to Easton last year around Thanksgiving,” she said. “Less than two weeks  after we moved in, our house was robbed. Even though we were not home during the robbery, the kids went through a lot of emotions. They were afraid to play upstairs if adults in the house were downstairs. They would only go to sleep while the lights were left on. They would get frightened from every little noise, and kept asking if we could move back to our old house.”

Tsirakidis had signed up for Operation Santa through the Easton EMS when they purchased their house. Things took a positive turn on Dec. 19, 2020 when Santa, Mrs. Claus and an elf arrived in front of their home. The visitors from the North Pole spoke to the kids for about five minutes while Tsirakidis and her husband, Konstantinos, took pictures. 

“That was the first day since the robbery that my kids were able to joke, laugh, and get past the trauma they experienced,” Tsirakidis said. “My daughter, who was nine at that time, said she felt safe being in the house now because she knew Santa was watching since he knew she moved, and where she lives now. Since that day she kept talking about how she wanted to do something to give back to the EMS because they took time out of their busy day to give Santa a ride.”

Ariana Tsirakidis with the desserts she baked.

The family had moved to Easton from Norwalk, and their belongings were still in boxes when the break-in happened. A year has passed, and the kids have adjusted well, but Ariana never stopped talking about Santa and the EMS.

“She was asking me to do a lemonade stand over the summer so she could raise money,” Tsirakidis said. “But with concerns about COVID I was not sure how that would work.”

Then Ariana approached her mother with another idea. The young girl helps in the kitchen and loves to bake and make desserts. She wanted to sell the baked goods and donate the money to the EMS. Because they don’t live on a busy street, they needed to find a better location to put a stand. Tsirakidis posted a request for a site on social media and the Lisi family generously offered their property on Sport Hill Road. It was a perfect and highly visible location, directly adjacent to the EMS headquarters.

“We would like to thank Frank Lisi’s family for allowing us to use their property for the bake sale,” Tsirakidis said. “Also, to all the people that came out and supported our bake sale on this very cold day: Happy Holidays!”

Arnold said the family hadn’t let them know the sale was to benefit the EMS ahead of time. He and the crew members stopped by to purchase baked goods and saw that the sale proceeds were intended for the service.

“They did it on their own and didn’t let us know it was for us,” he said. “It was a complete surprise. When we broke for lunch we invited them to come in with us. Ariana explained the whole process and that they wanted to give back to us. She and her brothers got together and set it all up and stood out in the cold.”

Meanwhile, the EMS was out all weekend visiting Easton families through Operation Santa, the service’s tradition for many years. “This year was very successful,” Arnold said. “We visited over 200 kids with both ambulances on Saturday and Sunday in addition to responding to calls. It was a huge undertaking.”

In addition to the EMS, Tsirakidis praised the warm welcome the teachers and staff at Samuel Staples Elementary School gave to her children when they enrolled last year. She also cited her friendly and kind neighbors who further showed them they made the right decision by moving to Easton, which is indeed a wonderful town!

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By Nancy Doniger

Nancy Doniger worked as a journalist for three decades and was a founding editor of the nonprofit Easton Courier in partnership with the School of Communications, Media & the Arts at Sacred Heart University (SHU). She served two years as executive member and is now a contributing editing of the Easton Courier. She was a former managing editor of Hometown Publications and Hersam Acorn Newspapers covering Connecticut's Fairfield and New Haven counties. She was a correspondent for the Connecticut section of The New York Times from 1995 until the section was discontinued in 2006. Over the years she edited The Easton Courier, The Monroe Courier, The Bridgeport News and other community newspapers. She taught news editing as an adjunct professor at SHU and served as coordinator and member of the Community Assets Network for the Easton, Redding and Region 9 schools. She was a member of the Newtown Community Center Commission, member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), board member of the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA), and past president and board member of the Barnard Club of Connecticut. She has won awards for her writing from SPJ and NENPA.