RALEIGH, N.C. — The National Guard is playing Santa, thanks to some spontaneous giving from the community.
Laura Grace and her brother, Christian William, keep things light for their mom, Tina Bishop. Wednesday was her wedding anniversary and her husband, Mark, is across the world in Iraq. He has been there since February with the National Guard.
Tina Bishop did get a double dose of good news this week. She found out Mark is coming home soon, and she got a surprise from the National Guard -- Christmas gifts for the kids.
Alice Dean, who works for the Guard's Family Assistance Center, said gifts for more than 70 families came pouring into her office and the National Guard never asked for a single gift.
"The phone is ringing off [the hook]. A lot of calls from individual families, churches, companies wanting to adopt families or help out any way they can with our National Guard families during the holiday," Dean said.
The National Guard received so many gifts that they had to keep some of them in a storage shed.
"The kids were excited, especially [Laura Grace]. She doesn't quite know the difference, but he was very thrilled," Bishop said.
"It's heart-warming. It's the best holiday I have ever in my life had," Dean said.
The Family Readiness Center chose families for the gifts based on need. Members of the Guard's 30th Heavy Separate Brigade begin returning home next week.