Veteran salvages Christmas by helping others in need

Veteran salvages Christmas by helping others in need »Play Video
Raymond Browne and his wife Amanda Horsley.

SALEM, Ore. -- The holiday looked bleak for a group of veterans in the Salem area.

They said they were cheated out of their wages, right before Christmas. No money for presents, no money for bills.

But some of them turned this challenge into a chance to teach their children about the spirit of the season.

Raymond Browne was one of the more than thirty veterans who worked for a man named Tim Leatherby, who they accused of offering them jobs and leaving them without the pay he promised.

"Trying to get Christmas for our children was next to impossible," said Browne.

KATU viewers saw the stories about the veterans' plight and donated money to help, including one man who gave $10,000. With so many veterans in need, each family received a small amount of the $10,000 donation, but many said it gave them hope. Other people donated food, clothes, and more.

One group showed up at Browne's house with a surprise, a very large donation of food. Browne and his wife, Amanda Horsley, were overwhelmed. Then they decided it was their turn to give.

"I impulsively made the decision, 'We're going to feed people,'" said Browne.

They found other families who had bare cupboards and children to feed, and delivered the food to them, just in time for Christmas. They said they were able to help three families, including one with two small boys who were so eager to eat that they dug into the turkey as soon as it was brought in.

"I know there's a lot of people hurting much worse than us. I'm just so thankful that we have what we have," said Horsley. "We are blessed."

"That was all I wanted to do for Christmas, is to give back," said Browne.

Browne wanted to show his children that the spirit of Christmas is not in the gifts, but in the giving and the time spent with loved ones.

His 8-year-old daughter, Victoria, agreed.

"I don't really care about the presents. I just like seeing everybody happy," she said.

In the end, the family received enough in money, donations and last-minute miracles to buy their children presents.

As for Tim Leatherby, the man who served as Grinch for so many families this year?

"He took away from a lot of people, but he wasn't going to destroy our Christmas," said Horsley. "He wasn't going to destroy our faith."