Having her house burn just before Christmas was too much for Aida Alig.
The 10-year-old became traumatized by the Dec. 11 fire, which made her home on Elmwood Street in Delta unlivable.
Fortunately, Aida met a Yuletide angel in the form of Angie Zeigler, a firefighter and EMT for the Delta Community Fire Department. Zeigler realized the extent of Aida’s emotional pain from the house fire and was determined to help turn the horrible experience into something positive.
“It just broke my heart,” Zeigler said.
Called in at about 5:30 p.m., the blaze severely damaged the house, leaving Aida, her mother Melanie, and her brother, Ashton, homeless.
As children’s director for a Wednesday evening program at Delta United Methodist Church attended by Aida during the fire, Zeigler immediately noticed the girl’s fragile state.
“She was an emotional wreck. She was crying and very emotional and upset,” Zeigler recalled. “She kept crying and saying her house burned down.”
Melanie Alig, Aida’s mother, also noted that Aida “is a very emotional little girl.”
Zeigler didn’t want Aida to have to live with trauma from the ordeal, so she devised a plan to aid the youth’s emotional recovery.
On Dec. 14, the day of the annual Christmas for Kids in Fulton County event for underprivileged children, she and Delta Fire Chief Scott Smith welcomed Aida to the village fire station for a tour of the building and the engines. She rang the fire bell and operated an engine’s lights and siren. The girl was also presented with a firefighter’s helmet, jacket, and badge to commemorate the visit.
It was a close encounter designed to extinguish the fear she may have developed of the trucks and equipment that battled the house fire. “So instead of Aida having this bad memory of fire trucks, I could give her a good memory,” Zeigler said. “I think she was overwhelmed with happiness and shock with the surprise. She thanked me and said she will now always love fire trucks. She was super excited and grateful.”
Her mother, who accompanied her on the tour, was also grateful for the gesture. “She was crying, she was so happy for Aida,” Zeigler said.
Aida’s hands-on tour at the fire station also prepared her to participate in Christmas for Kids. The participating children were transported to a holiday shopping spree at Walmart in Wauseon in a caravan of vehicles provide by emergency services in the county. Aida traveled with Zeigler and Smith in a Delta fire engine.
Because she had missed the deadline to apply for Christmas for Kids, she was presented with a $100 gift card to the store from her church.
“I love the fire station, it was the Christmas season, and I just had to do something,” Zeigler said.
An account titled “Benefit for Alig Family” has been opened at Farmers and Merchants State Bank. Donations can be made at all locations.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.