Times are tough for Americans right now and they can be especially tough throughout the holidays, the same holds true for our service members.
Freedom Alliance’s Presents for Patriots program “is a way to help our military service members that are injured or are in a situation where their Christmas is in peril,” explained Programs Director, Pepper Ailor.
Family Readiness Groups at military bases across the country help Freedom Alliance find families that need their help the most. From there, these families fill out a Christmas wish list with gifts for both the children and parents and Freedom Alliance does their best to fulfill their needs.
This Christmas would have been a difficult time for Sergeant Jason, his wife Liz and their six children. Sgt. Jason served in the Marine Corps for 12 years before he was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, the most common form of blood cancer; he is currently waiting for his medical retirement board to come through.
Six little faces peered through the curtains at Ailor as he approached their home on Christmas Eve, wearing a Santa Clause hat. Their eyes lit up with excitement as they watched him carry two enormous bags filled with wrapped gifts and two fully assembled bicycles to their front door.
“I wanted the children to look out the window and watch the special delivery,” said Liz. “I told them someone from the North Pole was visiting.”
“The looks on those kids faces was incredible, their smiles were contagious” said Ailor. “I told them I was delivering these presents not only because they had been good, but because Santa loves Marines like [their] dad.”
Ailor delivered presents to three other homes this Christmas as part of Presents for Patriots and Freedom Alliance volunteers in the Mid-West and on the West Coast did the same.
Another Marine selected for the Presents for Patriots program had been wounded by mortar fire just two months before he was scheduled to go home. Cpl. Patrick has a metal jaw and will wear a knee brace for the rest of his life due to shrapnel in his leg. Cpl. Patrick and his wife Holly have three children. Their daughter Kadence danced around when she opened a present containing a Victorious doll and their son Avery couldn’t wait to get his new Tonka Bulldozer truck out of the box. Baby Tatum’s eyes grew big and his mouth opened when he pushed the buttons on a toy ball with lights and sounds.
Cpl. Patrick and Holly opened gift cards to Wal-Mart, Belk, and Bass Pro Shops.
“I’m just thankful that my husband came back” said Holly. “I couldn’t imagine my life without him.” They both said that the timing was perfect to be selected for the Presents for Patriots program.
“For the children of these deserving families, the presents made Christmas,” said Ailor. “But it was the generosity of our donors, the hard work of our volunteers and the tears in the eyes of our military families that defined Christmas for me.”