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Wounded veteran, family receive Christmas surprise

By Sonny Long
Dec. 23, 2011 at 6:23 a.m.
Updated Dec. 26, 2011 at 6:26 a.m.

Santa Claus delivers a present to the Rheinschmidt family in the 3000 block of Cedar Street as part of the Kamin Furniture's Magic of Christmas giveaway.

Barbara and Brett Rheinschmidt's children don't have to sleep on the cement floor anymore.

Cameron, 11, Jaden, 4, and Makala, 3, Rheinschmidt now have beds with real mattresses in their newly painted, carpeted and furnished home thanks to Kamin Furniture's 25th annual Magic of Christmas giveaway.

"I'm overwhelmed with joy. I can't stop crying," said Brett Rheinschmidt, 29, as the furniture was being unloaded onto his front lawn.

Rheinschmidt, an Army Specialist 4th Class who served in Iraq, suffers from combat-related knee and back injuries as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rheinschmidt was on a tank crew with the 4th Infantry Division, First Brigade Combat Team. He has been home from the war since 2004.

He and his family were nominated to receive the annual giveaway by Ron Kocian of Warrior's Weekend.

Store owner Buddy Kamin, who dons the traditional Santa Claus suit every year for the occasion, said this was the third year the giveaway has targeted military families.

"It's a shame. We ask these people to give the ultimate sacrifice and they come back in this condition," Kamin said.

Upon arrival at the Rheinschmidt home, Kamin told the Army veteran: "I can tell you, Specialist Rheinschmidt, this is just a pittance of giving back and trying to make a difference for your family for what you have given all of us and so many others.

"Never feel like you've been forgotten, because you haven't."

Barbara Rheinschmidt also cried as the scene unfolded.

"Tears of joy. We're just so excited. This is amazing. We weren't expecting this. I can't believe it. It's so amazing," she said. "We're so blessed. Did I say amazing?"

In addition to the furniture and Christmas gifts, the Rheinschmidts' house was painted inside and carpeted. They also got new appliances and their truck repaired, above and beyond the giveaway's normal household of furniture.

The convoy from Kamin Furniture was led by about a dozen members of the Patriot Guard Riders. Santa hitched a ride in a Victoria County fire truck.

Oscar Pena, ride captain, said the Patriot Guard Riders were pleased to participate.

"Since it's for one of our local wounded soldiers, we're more than willing," he said.

Barbara Rheinschmidt tried to sum up what receiving the giveaway means to her and her family.

"This is a new year. A fresh start. The best Christmas we've ever had," she said.

Inside the house smelling of fresh paint, a Christmas tree sat in the corner with dozens of presents for the children underneath.

Fred Poster, Barbara's father, put his arm around his sobbing son-in-law.

"This," he said, "is 'We the People.'"

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