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Strangers provide presents to military family grieving from loss of father, husband

Posted at 5:47 PM, Dec 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-22 17:47:53-05

With Christmas now within reach, a reminder of what this time of year is all about.

A group of strangers stepped up in a big way to help a military family dealing with heartache this holiday season.

“February 24th, he lost his battle and the injuries caught up to him," said Rebekah Peaco.

Peaco is preparing to celebrate her first Christmas without her best friend.

"5:26 was the time my husband left me and turned into an angel that morning," said Peaco.

U.S. Army Specialist Thomas Waskey was severely injured while saving a young boy playing.

"Had scrapes and bruises and my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury," said Peaco.

For more than a decade, Waskey struggled with the injuries sustained during that roadside blast while on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"You're only true disability is a bad attitude," said Peaco.

It's the motto Waskey lived by and shared to motivate other injured veterans.

“He signed up for the military knowing what could happen, that takes a special person," said Robert Newman.

Newman just recently learned of Waskey's story, and the family of 7 he left behind while looking for some families to adopt this Christmas.

"I hear this and I think about my kids having to grow up without me around and I can't imagine that," said Newman.

Friday, Newman, along with his daughter Elliana, and a handful of volunteers dropped off stockings and a huge stash of presents to put under the family's tree.

"It means a lot that I can teach her it's all about giving back," said Newman.

The 9-year-old already knows what the season is all about.

“Christmas is about giving, it's not about the presents. It's about giving and making other people happy," said Elliana.

A simple gesture from strangers is strengthening the spirit of the season for those who need it most.

“To have someone step in and show they care and to help me it's remarkable, it's a true blessing," said Peaco.

Newman is part of Cleveland Bridge Builders, a networking program that teaches civic responsibility and leadership. Their adopt-a-family program, which collected more than $11,000 in donations is helping 8 families this year with 32 children among them.