A little over a year and half ago, near the corner of Tibbs and Royal, Nancy Latner and her husband first crossed paths with neighbor Ross Musso, who was outside with his three dogs.

“I realized, you know he’s all by himself, and I said to my husband: ‘It’s probably really pretty lonely at Christmas,’ ” Latner says.

A former truck driver, Musso has been living alone since his sisters died. His hearing and eyesight are slipping. The three dogs were his only companions.

After their initial meeting, Latner dropped off groceries and a few household items at Musso’s house, which his father built decades earlier. She found out Musso hadn’t had hot water at home for years because of a leak, so he had been taking cold showers. The dogs needed check-ups and shots. And then there were property taxes due. Latner decided to let their neighbors know the situation and posted an online plea. The response was overwhelming.

Neighbors raised enough money to cover his property taxes. Another neighbor had been quietly helping Musso for five years. Another neighbor works on the home’s plumbing. Yet another neighbor paid for the dogs’ shots and check-ups. Someone else bought a year’s worth of flea and heartworm medication for the dogs. Another neighbor helps with grocery shopping and the lawn. For the holidays, the neighborhood coordinated meals for Musso. And at Christmas , Latner and her husband, John McLellan, brought Musso a huge Santa bag filled with gifts.

In November 2020, Musso celebrated his 86th birthday with his neighbors. There was a cake, along with plenty of photos and masks. People stopped by with gifts and to say hello. He received 91 birthday cards.“He’s very appreciative,” Latner says. “My parents are both deceased. And I know it’s hard when you’re older.”

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