MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis soldier’s family has learned about the abundance of help on the home front after thieves took all the Christmas presents from under the tree.

While Jason Ottum is stationed in Kuwait, Kat Ottum has been working and taking care of their three young children. On Tuesday night, the Ottums came home to find a Grinch had stolen their Christmas. All their gifts and more from under the tree were gone. The thieves also took the family’s Wii, some guns, and box of important documents by breaking in through the back door.

But in just two days, kindness has now left what was a grim Christmas with a brighter outlook.

“With everything that has happened to us, my heart is full, overflowing, this is probably the best Christmas we could ever ask for in my lifetime,” said Kat Ottum.

When neighbors and strangers began hearing about the Ottums’ crisis, many of them were compelled to help. Bill Popp, the founder and president of the Minnesota Military Family Foundation, was the first to step up by not only replacing presents, but giving the gift of support.

“I am just grateful and thankful to help and I am just one of many,” said Popp, who helped replace gifts as well as the door the thieves used to break in.

Kat Ottum’s employer, the YMCA, didn’t hesitate to serve one of their own, by shopping for the three children, and wrapping all the presents to be put back under the tree. They also gave her a laptop so she could Skype with her husband

“What would be very important for us to know is that those that did steal the gifts is to understand that they didn’t deter the spirit of Christmas, for anybody,” said Tom Brinsko, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater St. Paul.

“It’s been saved and then some,” said Kat Ottum. “I think I’m going to feel this Christmas spirit for the rest of my life, the outpourings of support that have come to our family, tenfold. It’s wonderful.”

Ottum says she’s received such an outpouring of kindness, she can now celebrate the greatest gift of all: The ability to pay it forward. She plans to give all her extra presents to help families in need.

“There is so much generosity out there you can’t look at the bad,” said Ottum. “I can’t thank everyone enough and if my husband was here I know he would say the same thing.”

Minneapolis Police are still trying to track down who broke into the house Tuesday. The Ottums’ neighbors are keeping a close watch on the house to prevent something like this from happening again.

The Minnesota Military Family Foundation relies on volunteers and donations to keep going. Popp says part of the proceeds from the Minnesota “Support Our Troops” license plates benefit the organization, which has helped 1,000 Minnesota families in the past eight years.

There is also a benefit account set up for the family at Bremer Banks.

Watch Chris Stanford’s Earlier Report

Comments (10)
  1. mr obvious says:

    MN nice at its best. No one deserves a empty christmas.

  2. Wendy says:

    If you’d like to help, you can go to Bremer Bank and make a donation to Kathryn Ottum or if you’d prefer to go through PayPal, the link follows below. Thank you so much to WCCO for airing the show and helping out this poor family!!


  3. Nicki Tennyson says:

    WCCO is an amazing station. Always looking out for people and airing touching stories, giving people a chance to help out. THANK YOU, WCCO!

  4. JGE says:

    That is a great story! I’m so happy to hear people stepped up to help them! It is SO nice to hear good things like this!

  5. bahhumbug says:

    What about all those homeless kids who have nothing at least these people have a warm home and probably insurance to cover the loss. I know a family who dosn’t have a home and will not have a Christmas and explain that to the kids who are asking how santa is going to find. I am so sick of those people with the nice homes they ripped off or something happens and everything comes pouring in when a single mother who lost her job is trying to give her kdis a christmas. This why I don’t give to charities or to anyone it goes to the wrong people.

    1. simba says:

      I understand what you are saying but maybe you should read you last sentence before you judge others. The woman also said she is donating the extra presents. The news media reports on what sales unfortunately.


      1. bahhumbug says:

        Yes I read that and I also said people who don’t really need it will get them. Do you know my daughter signed up to get winter coats for her kids and she did everything right and when it got to her they ran out. She said these people who were coming out of that place a lot of them had on name brand shoes and jeans not all but most. If they can afford Niki’s, sketchers and other name brand stuff what are they doing getting coats? We have called 211, Catholic Charities (they are a joke they told me since she was not a client they could not help her. Salvation Army was our next try oh were sorry we don’t have any money left. Trust me we love our second hand stores and only really go to retail stores for under clothes for the kids. I don’t believe in MN nice and I don’t believe in giving to those big charities either and never will.

  6. bahumbug says:

    Why don’t WCCO cover those stories no they don’t. What about the old people whose families forget about them in nursing homes. So big deal they have a someone in the military have two family members.

    1. bluefaery says:

      i understand what you are saying with helping those who don’t need it but you don’t sound like you were helping your daughter with getting her kids coats or helping that family you know why aren’t they camped out on your floor?
      the Lord helps thos that help themselves …
      i am always one to help the guy holding the “homeless and hungry” sign … i bring them a sandwich and something to drink … not $5 that can be spent for something else …
      my children WANT alot but NEED nothing … just depends on how you are raised and in turn raise your children … and the presents they like the most are the ones that are home-made …
      but still great story of helping those who were already helping themselves – doing all the right things they both have jobs and are caring for their family not collecting a check or looking for that handout

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