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By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — You just never know who reads the newspaper.
And when this year’s Letters to Santa by third graders in the Boyceville school district were published, one letter stood out for a long-time subscriber to the Tribune Press Reporter.
The letter was written by Jase Allen Hoyt, a third grade student in Shannon Bignell’s class at Tiffany Creek Elementary.
“Dear Santa: I want you to try to make my granpa feel better for Chistmas. Please try to. Thank you Santa xoxo. Sincerely, Jase Allen Hoyt, age 9 ½, Boyceville.”
The long-time subscriber was so touched by Jase’s wish for Christmas that on Christmas Day, he sent an e-mail to Carlton DeWitt, publisher of the Tribune Press Reporter.
In part, the e-mail message reads: “I continue to read each issue of the Tribune Press Reporter without fail, and particularly look forward to the ‘Off the Editor’s Desk’ and ‘Days of Old’ columns. Keep up your good work in publishing such a quality rural newspaper.
“I also read the cute Santa letters that you publish each December. While most of the children wish for usual various toys and games, this year’s batch included a refreshing one. In it, Jase Allen Hoyt asked only that ‘I want you to try to make my grandpa feel better for Christmas. Please try to. Thank you Santa.’ What a wonderful, touching request.
“I would like to give Jase a belated Christmas gift and would appreciate your input … I would prefer being anonymous or be known as Santa’s Helper.”
Carlton DeWitt communicated with the long-time subscriber. He also got in touch with Tiffany Creek Elementary. And he found out what Jase would like for a belated Christmas gift.
As it turns out, the grandpa Jase referred to in his Letter to Santa was his great-grandfather, Anthony Curvello of Downing.
And the reason Jase wanted Santa Claus to try to make his grandpa feel better is that Curvello was diagnosed with colon cancer in October.
Unfortunately, Curvello passed away January 7, two weeks after Jase’s Letter to Santa was published. His obituary was published in the January 23 edition of the Tribune Press Reporter.
Carlton DeWitt visited Tiffany Creek Elementary on Wednesday, February 13, to present the Christmas gift that Santa’s Helper had wanted Jase to have — a Lego Creator 3 in 1 Pirate Roller Coaster.
Carlton, along with Shawn DeWitt, the advertising manager for the Tribune Press Reporter, also brought along copies of the Christmas edition of the Tribune so Jase and his classmates could see their Letters to Santa in print.
The other third graders alternated between clustering around Jase to see his Lego Creator set and excitedly looking through their very own copies of the newspaper.
As for Jase, he was thrilled with the Lego set.
“It’s three in one, so it’s three sets!” Jase exclaimed.
When asked if he was going to leave his Lego Creator set at school or take it home, Jase did not hesitate.
“Take it home,” he said.
Jase says he misses his grandpa and is sad his grandpa has passed away.
“I used to see him a lot when I was a baby. We would talk about tractors and stuff. But then when I had school, I really didn’t get to see him that much. But then he got in the hospital, and he kept getting switched from the hospital to the nursing home,” he said.
Jase said he did get to visit his grandpa around Christmas time.
“He was nice, and he really liked tractors and trucks,” Jase said.
When asked if he thought his grandpa would like the Lego set, Jase paused and thought for a moment before answering, “I don’t really think he was into Legos.”
Jase said his grandpa did, however, fix tractors and trucks.
“He had a bunch of antiques [toy trucks and tractors]. He liked semis too. He had a lot of them in boxes,” he said.
Jase was sure he would have fun putting the Lego sets together.
In addition to Legos, Jase said he likes to play on his tablet computer and his Playstation. He also likes to play with his trucks and his cars.
“And I have a LOT of Legos,” Jase said.
But even though he has more Lego sets at home, Jase did not have this particular Lego set.
His other Legos include Avenger, Explorer and Lego City Legos — “I have a lot of them,” Jase repeated, agreeing that he did not think one could ever have too many Legos.
Anthony Curvello was the beloved grandfather of Jase’s mother, Tara Lain. And while she knew that the cancer diagnosis had made an impact on Jase, she was not anticipating he would focus his Letter to Santa on his grandpa.
“It’s not what you would expect from a 9 ½ year-old. I’m very proud of him,” Tara said.
Lynn Lain, Jase’s grandmother, agreed.
“A lot of people I tell at work about it, and they’re just like, ‘what?!?’,” she said.
“It was pretty impressive,” Lynn said.
Tara’s grandfather — Jase’s grandpa — “used to babysit him when he was little. He used to babysit him when I was at work,” Tara said.
Tara was certain the Lego set would not languish in the box for long.
“I’m sure he’ll start working on it tonight,” she said.
Tara and Lynn said they were both very appreciative of the efforts of Santa’s Helper and that they wanted him or her to know they are thankful.
As for Jase, his bright, happy smile as he admired the Lego Creator set box was all anyone needed to see to know how he felt about his gift.
According to his obituary, Anthony Curvello, 83, proudly served his country in the U.S. Army where he served during the Korean Conflict until his time of honorable discharge.
Anthony met and married his wife, Sandra Whitehead, in 1974 and together they raised seven children. During those 44 years of marriage, they loved and enjoyed caring for and spending time with their 17 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. They loved to travel to numerous places in the country and around the world.
Anthony enjoyed a wonderful career as a truck driver for 66 years, beginning as a teenager hauling fruit with his grandfather. Later he worked for USF Holland where he was employed for many years. Anthony finished his career working for his son at Curvos Trucking.