Claremore Woman 'Adopts' 37 Veterans For Christmas
CLAREMORE, Oklahoma - A Green Country group set out to honor local veterans with their Angel Tree program this holiday season. What they got in return was their own angel.
The American Legion Post 141 in Claremore asked people in the community to buy gifts for veterans living in area nursing homes - veterans who may not receive other gifts this holiday.
"It's just to honor them," said Sandy McGrew, a member of American Legion Post 141. "Don't get me to crying."
Ruth Thacker, president of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, explained the Post typically gets gifts for those at the Veterans Center but realized the need was greater for those living in nursing homes.
"They just don't get as much attention or the help that our Veterans Center does," Thacker said.
Several volunteers signed up for angels right away but the Post still had 37 unclaimed veterans who needed gifts. The deadline is this weekend.
Then, the Post got a call.
"She said she wanted all the angels on the tree," McGrew explained. "I said, 'What?' She said, 'Yeah.'"
Mary Ebersole from Claremore adopted all 37 remaining veterans, for a simple reason: "I just didn't want anybody to feel left out," she said.
Ebersole's father served in the military for 20 years, she explained, and she couldn't imagine any veteran going without this holiday.
"Everybody wants to open something at Christmas," Ebersole said. "Nobody wants to be forgotten."
It's no surprise to Mary's daughter, Alyssa, who said her mom does this sort of thing all the time.
"She's probably the greatest woman I've ever met," Alyssa said. "This is, this is nothing. This is just who she is."
It will take the family hours to shop then assemble and wrap 37 different care packages all night on Thursday, and then deliver the gifts Friday morning.
"I don't know their situations; I don't know which nursing homes they're in. I don't even know them," Ebersole said. "But they did something for all of us, so it's the least that I can do."
McGrew said she got emotional when Ebersole gave her generous offer.
"She was an angel," McGrew said. "See, you got me to cryin'."
Fifty-four veterans in total will get their gifts from the Post this week.