Families in need and the people among us who can’t say ‘no’

Bootstrap Comrades, an organization in Sauk Center that helps veterans, had pretty much run out of money to buy toys for veterans’ families for Christmas, but volunteer Julie Peterson knows the power of social media when harnessed for good.

Earlier this month, a disabled veteran whom she helps said his toaster was broken. “He asked if I had an old one I was not using,” she wrote on Facebook. “It made me stop & think and nearly broke my heart. This man faught for our country & could not afford a toaster. Because it was getting cold & he needs fuel in his tank to heat his house. This same man has had to choose between heat & food in the winter.”

Voila! A new toaster appeared.

It’s been that way this season. As she posts about families needing a hand, people step up. But more people ask for help as the message spreads.

And so it was for Amanda Garcia, 29, whose husband is a veteran. The family has had a tough year, the St. Cloud Times says. And although Bootstraps Comrades was out of money, Peterson said she couldn’t say “no.”

On Sunday she posted a request or people to “adopt” the three kids for Christmas. By Monday, the kids had presents.

The couple has three kids; a 9-year-old girl, a 6-year-old boy, and a 3-year-old boy. Both Amanda and Johnathan Garcia are enrolled full-time in school and work part-time.Johnathan Garcia is also president of the Husky Formula Racing group at St. Cloud State University.

She watched as the comments poured in to Peterson’s online request. “We’re really thankful,” Amanda Garcia said. “We’re really surprised how many people wanted to adopt our kids.”

Clearwater resident Kara Roth-Harren is one of those sponsors who “adopted” a child and donated presents for Christmas. She thought it might be too late to help a family this year, but she texted Peterson when she saw the online request.

Roth-Harren had never heard of Bootstrap Comrades before seeing the Facebook post.

“I wanted to do something for veterans and families. I know it’s hard this time of year,” she said. Roth-Harren said she liked that Bootstrap Comrades was a small organization helping local families and veterans compared to other, larger organizations.

In addition to the individuals who are donating toys for the children, Bootstrap Comrades will provide the family with a Christmas dinner.

Amanda says when the family is in better times, she’ll adopt a family too.

Bootstrap Comrades is accepting donations until Jan. 1 through bins at AmericInn Lodge & Suites, 4385 Clearwater Road, according to the paper.