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