HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – This year marks the first Christmas the Castillo family spent without their son Kendrick, so the community stepped up with a gesture of love and support. Kendrick was killed protecting his classmates from a gunman at the STEM School Highlands Ranch back in May.

Kendrick Castillo (credit: Charles Burroughs)

On Wednesday morning, dozens of cards, letters, and small gifts were delivered to John and Maria Castillo while they spent time at Kendrick’s grave site. The gesture took about a month of planning and coordinating by Tamara Emge, whose son attends STEM School Highlands Ranch.

Dozens of cards and gifts were delivered to Kendrick Castillo's parents on Christmas.

Dozens of cards and gifts were delivered to Kendrick Castillo’s parents on Christmas. (credit: CBS)

“I was just lying in bed and was thinking to myself, the only thing you can do is maybe know there’s people out there who care and that we’re here if they’re needing anything,” Emge said.

In November, Emge posted on the Nextdoor app, telling people she’d like to collect cards and heart-felt letters for the couple and deliver them on Christmas day. Soon the post spread to Facebook, and the idea took off.

Tamara Emge

Tamara Emge (credit: CBS)

“Every day I opened my door there was letters and envelopes and little presents and trinkets and stuff, and I would just bring them in and put them on my piano and the pile just got bigger and bigger and bigger,” Emge said.

While the word spread online, the Castillo’s were only aware of a “project” being coordinated for them. And while Emge helped put it all together, she wants no credit.

John and Maria Castillo visit their son’s grave. (credit: Louis Ramirez, CBS4)

“This community is amazing and the support we have for each other is unsurmounted by anything else,” she said.

Finally, on Christmas morning Emge delivered the haul of supportive and inspirational cards and letters to the Castillo’s. She tells CBS4 the moment was tearful and emotional.

(credit: Tamara Emge)

“I know we can’t make them feel better, I know we can’t make the pain go away, but maybe we can make them feel a little bit more loved and cared for,” she said.

Conor McCue

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