Help a soldier get home for the holidays

Help a soldier get home for the holidays »Play Video

Editors note: Due to many generous donations, enough money has been raised to get the Oregon soldiers home. However, soldiers from Washington also are needing help. If you would like to donate to help them, continue to use the donation link but make a note in the "add special instructions" section that you would like the funds to help soldiers from Washington. You can also email your request to help a Washington soldier at: donations @owva.org. KATU thanks you for supporting soldiers from the Northwest.

PORTLAND, Ore. - A hundred Oregon families with members in the National Guard found out at the last minute that their soldier can come home for the holidays - but they don’t have the money for a plane ticket.

The good news is viewers of KATU Television and visitors to KATU.com can help these local families pay for their soldier’s flight home by donating either online or by calling 800-346-9256 during Thursday's newscasts.

  • You can also donate at any U.S. Bank branch
  • Or mail a check to: OWVA, PO Box 8043, Salem, OR, 97303

The soldiers are currently in Wisconsin where they’re training for a yearlong mission in Afghanistan. That mission will be to remove roadside bombs. They leave for Afghanistan in January.

The National Guard said that at the last minute the soldiers weren’t able to move forward for a quick stop in Kuwait and then onto Afghanistan.

The Guard said it doesn’t have the resources to pay for the soldiers’ flights home and so the soldiers would be forced to pay their own way.

“I mean a lot of these people that are donating, they don’t realize what kind of joy they’re bringing to these people,” said Amanda Cushman who was preparing to spend the holidays apart from her husband, a sergeant, until the community stepped up to help.

“It really wouldn’t be Christmas if he wasn’t home,” Amanda said. “I have lots of family but it’s just not the same to not have him home.”

Even though less than two weeks ago they got the good news that Sgt. Cushman could come home for the holidays, the couple hadn’t budgeted for the trip and had no idea how they’d pay for his ticket home.

Then Amanda’s sister, Liz Carlson, stepped in and let the people of Canby know what was happening. Businesses like Millar’s Tires, Cutsworth Thriftway, and Partners Hair Salon stepped up to help.

“She (Liz Carlson) threw it out on Facebook, and I happened to pick it up, and I just said to my husband, ‘Oh my God, we gotta help these people,’” said Carrie Sandburg of Partners Salon.

“I just appreciate their service in going to Afghanistan. It’s pretty important,” said Brooks Cutsworth of Cutsworth Thriftway.

“These are men and women who say every day, ‘I’ll be there; I’ll protect you; you go ahead, you have your Christmas, your birthdays, your barbecue; I’ll be there; I’ll go and protect you; I’ll miss kissing my son or daughter goodnight so that you can,’” said Carlson about the soldiers.

Within a few days, the community raised $800 to bring Sgt. Cushman home. Amanda said she knows, given the nature of the mission of removing roadside bombs, it’s an opportunity not to be wasted and it’s a chance to spend their son Jonathan’s first Christmas together.

“Knowing just all these people wanted to help us, it just amazed me,” she said.

The Canby VFW, American Legion and total strangers also chipped in to help the Cushmans.

Other families said they are draining their savings accounts and foregoing mortgage payments to bring their soldier home for Christmas.