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Santa comes early for Franklinton girl

Posted December 6, 2011
Updated December 7, 2011

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— An Air Force contractor who has spent all but 22 days of the past two years in Iraq surprised his young daughter Tuesday by showing up at her Granville County school dressed as Santa Claus.

Bethany Arnold, a second-grader at Tar River Elementary School in Franklinton, recently wrote a letter to Santa asking for her father to come home for Christmas.

"That would be the best gift of all," Bethany wrote.

So Wyndal Arnold, who was heading home on leave, and Bethany's mother hatched a plan to surprise the 7-year-old.

Arnold bought presents for all of Bethany's classmates and arrived, dressed as Santa, to deliver them. There wasn't a present for Bethany, however, so an elf invited her to sit on Santa's lap and tell him her Christmas wish.

"Santa, for Christmas, I want my dad to come home," the girl said.

Arnold then held up a small heart that Bethany had given him before he left for Iraq. She looked at it curiously and gave Santa a hug of thanks before Arnold pulled off his disguise and got an even bigger hug.

Santa comes early for Franklinton child Santa comes early for Franklinton child

Just like Santa, he checked twice to make sure his little girl got everything on her wish list.

"You happy? You sure you don't want something else? You got everything you needed? What are you crying for?" he said.

"I'm just so happy that you're home," a tearful Bethany responded.

Arnold doesn't have to return to Iraq until the end of January.

44 Comments

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  • awood2 Dec 7, 4:27 p.m.

    cavelady2...AMEN!! You know that little girl couldn't have gotten a better Christmas present than that. It made me want to cry just reading this story. There are so many children that will not be so lucky this year b/c their parents are still serving over there or are not alive to see their children. (whatever the case is)

  • m123 Dec 7, 3:38 p.m.

    Tar River Elementary is in GRANVILLE county. It is in the rural area known as Wilton. We have a Franklinton address but are several miles outside of the Franklinton city limits. In fact, we have a Franklinton address and a Creedmoor phone number. This is common in rural areas.

  • vrichardson90 Dec 7, 1:41 p.m.

    I truly love stories like this. It reminds us of the how precious fathers are to our families and the power of love. I thank the father for this man's sacrifice for us and his expression of love for his daughter.I also thank the school for their cooperation in his daughter's surprise, that was great!

  • Wassup10 Dec 7, 12:18 p.m.

    YES...Tar River Elementary is located in the city of Franklinton, NC. They got it right.

  • americaneel Dec 7, 12:10 p.m.

    braddavis...I actually think it is Franklin Elementary school located in Tar River County.

  • CAVELADY2 Dec 7, 12:02 p.m.

    Can i just say for the record that I have read just about all of the comments made here and i am tired of people correcting everyone about where this school is. Can we just focus on the fact that this little girls father was able to come home for Christmas? Why does it matter where the school is anyway?

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Dec 7, 11:42 a.m.

    That's just not enough time at home, but it is rough when there aren't enough jobs here. I hope they cherish every minute they are together.

  • lakeyk1 Dec 7, 11:36 a.m.

    A great story!!!!!! and I am so happy for the reuniting of this young girl and her father. Nothing like being home with family, especially for the holidays. Merry Christmas to this family, all of our military troops abroad and their families here. God Bless all. lakeyk1

  • u stand corrected Dec 7, 11:14 a.m.

    Made me cry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Responsibleforactions Dec 7, 11:05 a.m.

    I love feel good stories like this - tears coming down my cheeks with pleasure. I was a Navy brat and my father was not always home at Christmas, he would be in Vietnam and I remember how sad it was when all the other kids had their fathers.

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