HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – For 36 years Bobby Phifer has played Santa - delivering an elaborate holiday display outside their Asbury Court home, but for one hour Tuesday the roles reversed as CPS Plumbing dropped off a much needed gift.
"Listening to the people, it's just heartwarming. And knowing this may be the last year, is gut-wrenching," said Bobby.
With a looming foreclosure, his wife out of work, his daughter in braces, and no money to cover any of it - Bobby is burdened.
"Took [the family dog] to the vet last week and he has liver cancer. And really nothing can be done. We're just buying his time," Bobby said.
It could be his dog, Charlie's, last Christmas and the last year for sparkle on Asbury Court...and that's why Bobby's display still stands.
"What you give them is awesome and what they tell you how uplifting this is. This is the highlight of their Christmas, it's cool, it's awesome. It's a good feeling," he said.
Intricate sets hide the leak from his water heater.
"It's been leaking about 3 weeks now. It's getting pretty bad. They've been dreading walking next door to grandma's to take a shower," Bobby stated.
This morning CPS Plumbing contacted NBC12 - ready to help.
"When ya'll called and said you have someone who wanted to give us a hot water heater, I mean I was talking to you and I started crying," said Bobby.
John Carneal and his partner Josh worked like elves replacing the heater.
"To get a 40-gallon heater like this, it's approximately $800 to $850," said John.
John, who brought his children to see the sights for 17 years, is glad he can finally say thank you. To the critics Bobby Phifer says, yes the family is struggling, but setting all this up is their daily dose of joy. Bobby Phifer expects his power bill to total $3,000. He and his mom, who lives next door, are splitting the tab.