All over the country this week, dozens of unsuspecting military families are opening big brown boxes filled with amazing presents and holiday cheer. Boot Campaign’s Santa Boots program surprises deserving military families, hoping to make Christmas extra special, and even more importantly, to show appreciation for all the sacrifices these families have made.
Army veteran Angel Munoz says she knows just how truly special those families are feeling right now, because Boot Campaign and Santa Boots made all the difference for her family last year.
“It was really a godsend because in a time when we were hurting in the worst way possible, it was a light. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have done Christmas.”
Angel’s brother Jeremy Arsiaga, a former U.S. Marine and Iraq war veteran who struggled with PTSD and depression, had recently committed suicide. His family was devastated. They had already lost another brother, Robert, who was killed in action in Iraq 12 years earlier. Losing Jeremy seemed too much to bear.
Boot Campaign had been there to support Angel and her family in their grief, and wanted to make their holidays just a little bit brighter. So volunteer Boot Elves showed up on Angel’s doorstep in Midland, Texas with Santa Boxes full of toys and presents.
“It was so emotional. They went above and beyond trying to make Christmas as sweet and special as possible.”
This year, Boot Campaign is surprising 58 families with Santa Boots boxes. Inside are watches, sunglasses, running shoes, cowboy boots, toys, books, and much more – all donated by generous businesses and supporters. Dozens of volunteers wrapped and packaged the gifts with respect and appreciation for those who will unwrap them.
Angel remembers the wrapping paper flying everywhere last year, as her sons and Jeremy’s children tore into the packages. Angel, her mom Sylvia, and Jeremy’s widow Patricia watched with tears in their eyes as the smiles grew on the kids’ faces. Xboxes, Elf on a Shelf, clothing…gift after gift came out of the boxes. The presents brought much-needed joy to the children and the whole family. And to Angel, the appreciation and support were worth more than anything in the box.
“The gifts didn’t matter. It was the fact that somebody took the time out to do all that. We mattered. Our story mattered to them. Our brother’s story matters to others besides us.”
What a gift it is to be able to bring both immediate joy and long-lasting comfort to families who have sacrificed so much.