In Pam Kinsey's Sandy neighborhood, the people who work for BFI Waste Systems did more than take away her garbage. They also restored her plans for a happy holiday.

Kinsey's dreams of a merry Christmas ended in late November when someone plowed into her 1988 Oldsmobile Sierra. They did $4,000 damage and didn't leave a note.The single mother of four (expensive) teenagers works two jobs just to make ends meet. She carries a $500 deductible on her auto insurance so she can afford to pay the premiums. But $500 in the weeks before Christmas is a real holiday buster. And she couldn't afford to be without a car.

When she found that her car had been smashed, she called the police, who told her she'd have to bring her car to them if she wanted to file a police report. So she towed it in. They confirmed that the car had been hit and said it looked like the damage had been done by a large truck.

Garbage trucks had been in the area that morning, so she called to see if there was any chance that one of them had hit her. Howard Smith, BFI maintenance manager, and Mark Miskol, operations manager, showed up to check the car. But they couldn't say for sure; the BFI safety inspector, Dan Howard, was out of town for a few days.

In the meantime, they sent mechanic Casey Vigil over to see if he could do something to make the car road safe until they could get to the bottom of the hit and run.

When Howard got back to town, he brought the two trucks that worked the area over to see if they could be responsible for the damage.

Even Kinsey could see that they weren't. Howard said he was sorry and promised to let Kinsey know if he heard anything about the accident. She was back to square one. She had to get her car fixed, which meant there'd be no Christmas for the kids this year. The Scrooge who hit he car had taken care of that.

But BFI wasn't through with her yet. On her birthday, Dec. 9, some guys from BFI showed up on her doorstep with a check for $500. She still cries when she tells the story.

Smith and crew plead guilty to a charge of committing a random act of kindness. BFI decided to make Kinsey their Christmas project, so they passed the hat among their 75 employees and more than 95 percent chipped in.

"She's a nice lady," Smith said. "We just felt bad that someone had ruined her Christmas."