MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis family is thankful for the outpouring of generosity after the children’s presents were stolen from right under the tree. Since the incident, it’s been one surprise after another for the Ottums.
Tuesday, the Ottums found their back door knocked in and their presents stolen. And there wasn’t much the father, Jason Ottum, could do after the burglary since he is stationed in Kuwait.
When people heard what happened, donations came pouring in. The family couldn’t believe it. But there was one surprise no one had expected.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve, the Ottums were at the airport expecting family. The three kids were told they were there to greet their cousins.
“Jesse, look!” said Kat Ottum pointing toward one of the escalators that leads to baggage claim at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Kat’s two year-old Jesse yelled, “Daddy! Daddy!”
Jason Ottum wasn’t scheduled to return home from a tour of duty in Kuwait until March. But he was cleared to return after news of the break-in spread among his colleagues.
His 6-year-old daughter Zoe jumped up and down with excitement when she saw him.
“Give me a hug,” Jason said before kissing Zoe on the forehead.
Jason said it’s great to see his family.
“It’s always great to see these guys, to see their faces light up,” he said.
Kat was in on the surprise. She’s been taking care of the kids and doing her best to organize the outpouring of donations that followed the break-in. And when she saw her husband Saturday, she appeared relieved.
“None of this was expected,” she said. “To have him come home on top of this was the best Christmas present ever.”
When he returned to his home in south Minneapolis, Jason saw the incredible generosity that poured in while he was in Kuwait. Donated presents spilled out from under the tree and took over the Ottum’s living room. Garbage bags filled with toys stood piled in a corner, dropped off by Jason’s co-workers at the security company.
“Wow, that’s a lot of stuff,” Jason said.
Many of the donations were made by the Minnesota Military Family Foundation and Kat’s co-workers. There are so many presents the Ottums plan to donate some of them to needy families.
The Home Depot even donated a new back door to the family.
“It’s solid all the way,” Jason said. “It’s got a new dead bolt on it, too.”
It may have been a holiday that began with misfortune, but it gave one soldier a chance to experience the best part of Christmas.
“I wasn’t expecting to be here on Christmas day and watch them open presents,” Jason said.
Minneapolis police haven’t found the person(s) who broke into the home and stole the presents, along with important personal documents, guns, and other valuable items.