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Brief: Bringing Joy to Children of Injured Service Members

In the spirit of the holidays, donors and volunteers affiliated with the nonprofit organization Our Military Kids provided gifts to more than 120 children of severely injured service members across the country, helping to minimize the financial burden of Christmas.

The project was headed by Bob Nelson, a real estate agent in Great Falls, who founded the gift drive with Our Military Kids in 2009 to recognize the service and sacrifice of our nation’s wounded military families during the holidays. Nelson (who also goes by “Santa Bob”) recruited friends and business associates to serve as his “elves” and adopt a child or family.

“The families of our wounded service members make tremendous sacrifices for our freedom, and this is the least we can do to repay them,” Nelson said. “Even before Thanksgiving, I had people contacting me to donate gifts again this year, and many had friends and family members who also wanted to donate gifts. The overwhelming response from people in this community will make a huge impact on families that need our help this Christmas.”

All of the children had previously received grants from Our Military Kids, which provides funding for children of severely injured service members, along with currently deployed National Guardsmen and Reservists. The grants pay for a child’s participation in activities such as sports, fine arts, camps and tutoring programs.

“These children go through so much with a parent recovering from injuries sustained while serving our country, and while providing them with Christmas gifts is not part of our mission, we realize the difference it makes for the families,” said Linda Davidson, executive director of Our Military Kids. “Our grants have an immense impact for the entire family, and we’re honored to be able to offer these families this added support during the holidays.”

Nelson worked with Gloria Schaefer, a volunteer with Our Military Kids, to compile a list of children in need and their Christmas wish-lists. Both Nelson and Schaefer were pleased and grateful for the outpouring of support from the community to fulfill the gift requests.

To check the progress of this year’s wish list, visit www.bobnelsonteam.com.

Our Military Kids was founded in 2004 to support children ages 3 to 18 of National Guard and Reserve families that often become financially stretched during a deployment. In 2006 the program expanded to include children of severely injured service members from all branches. The organization provides $500 grants for activities such as sports, fine arts, and tutoring programs that nurture and sustain children while a parent is serving our country overseas or recovering from injury. Our Military Kids is funded by corporations, foundations, private donors and government grants. For more information, please visit www.ourmilitarykids.org.